• Secondary care providers to be “fully digitised” by 2024, under long-term plan
  • The previous target was by 2023
  • All trust to meet “core” digital standard by 2023
  • Centre to “accelerate” uptake of electronic patient records, including cloud services

The target for all secondary care providers to move to digital records has been pushed back to 2024, with NHS England confirming additional central funding for trusts.

The long-term plan, published on Monday, said all secondary care providers would have to be ”fully digitised” by 2024.

In addition, the plan said: “all providers, across acute, community and mental health settings, will be expected to advance to a core level of digitisation by 2024.

”This will cover clinical and operational processes across all settings, locations and departments and be based on robust, modern IT infrastructure services for hosting, storage, networks and cyber security.”

The centre would “accelerate” the roll-out of electronic patient records and “associated apps”, including by sharing IT systems across multiple providers and making greater use of cloud-hosted software. 

Central funding, up to “an upper limit”, would be available to support this and to “meet mandated standards and technical requirements” associated with moving to new IT systems. The plan did not specify how much funding would be available.

NHS England’s previous target for digitising secondary care was 2023.

The national commissioning body has previously set targets to move off paper records by 2018 and by 2020. It informally adopted the 2023 target in 2016, after Dr Bob Wachter’s review said the “paperless 2020” was an unrealistic ambition.

Central funding for digitising providers currently runs through to 2020-21, and the long-term plan is the firmest indication to date that funding will continue.

NHS England has previously acknowledged that there is not enough money allocated to finish the job, with one senior official estimating an additional £4bn is needed.

Other announcements included: 


  • A pledge that all trusts will meet “mandated cyber security standards” by summer 2021.
  • Regional local health and care records will cover the country by 2024.
  • An additional seven global digital exemplar “fast followers” will be picked shortly, along with a new wave of exemplar trusts.
  • By 2023-24, all patients in England will have access to digital primary care services, such as online consultations.
  • By 2021-22, all integrated care systems will have a chief clinical information officer and chief information officer.