NHS commissioners have led the creation of around 100 ‘digital footprints’ to develop technology strategies for their health economies, an NHS England director has announced.

  • Around 100 CCG led groups will develop digital roadmaps
  • New “digital footprints” must develop plans for how they will become paperless in five years
  • The Department of Health has bid for extra cash from the government spending review to support the digital plans

The strategies will map out how local health economies will be paperless at the point of care by 2020.


The footprints take a variety of forms, with varying levels of engagement between commissioners and providers

NHS organisations, led by clinical commissioning groups, were told to form clusters across local health economies to draw up their “digital roadmaps” by October.

The groups are due to submit their roadmaps, which will be “refreshed annually”, by April, according to National Information Board guidance.

NHS England director of digital technology Beverley Bryant told the EHI Live conference in Birmingham that 194 out of 209 CCGs had “absolutely finalised” their plans and that there would be “about 100 footprints”.

She added: “Some CCGs are just on their own with providers in their patch. Others have clustered together.”

The digital footprints involve CCGs, all NHS providers, local authorities and voluntary organisations.   

NHS England is due to publish further details on which organisations are in which digital footprints.

Defining ‘paperless by 2020’

Ms Bryant said: “When we say paper-free at the point of care we mean that clinicians managing their day to day job – nurses, doctors, bed managers – will be operating digitally.

“Information about patients will be transferring across the boundaries of your organisations in a digital way. I am not bothered what you do with your HR, finance, café. You can do that on paper. What I care about is that clinically we are operating in a digital format.”

Chief information officers at the conference, from both the commissioner and provider sides, told HSJ the footprints were taking a variety of forms, with varying levels of engagement between commissioners and providers.

One acute trust chief information officer said he had not seen the final submission and was not completely sure which organisations were in his footprint, but did say there had been some engagement between providers and the CCG.

Another said their footprint was being overseen by their local commissioning support unit, while some CCG chief information officers insisted their providers had been well consulted.

Ms Bryant confirmed the Department of Health had made an ambitious funding bid to the Treasury as part of the spending review, as revealed by HSJ earlier this week.

She said: “We have worked really hard to create an evidence base for sustainable investment to the Treasury. If we get the money [from the spending review] we will end up doing some kind of technology fund.”

She said performance by trusts on the new digital maturity index, the first iteration of which is scheduled to be published in March, will be an “important” part of assessing which projects should get money.