NHS England has picked two more regions to receive up to £7.5m to create detail health and care patient records.

Speaking at the Digital Healthcare Show in London today, NHS England’s chief information officer Will Smart said Thames Valley and Surrey region, along with Yorkshire and Humber, will become “local health and care record exemplars”.

They will join exemplar projects for Greater Manchester, Wessex and London, which were announced last month

Together, the five areas will cover 23.5 million people, or roughly 40 per cent of the population.

The Yorkshire and the Humber record will cover West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside and the Thames Valley and Surrey record will cover Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey.

Each of the five regions will receive £7.5m through to 2020-21, to be matched locally, to develop a detailed repository of identifiable patient data that can be shared across health and care organisations within a region for direct care. 

The records will also be expected to generate anonymised patient data for operational planning in the NHS and “innovation hubs”, which will give industry easier access to patient data.

The five regions already have some form of a shared patient record but will be expected to expand and meet new national standards around patient opt-outs and the sharing of information freely across IT systems.

The regional schemes will be run along similar lines to the other “digital exemplar” programmes that are already being rolled out for acute, mental health and ambulance trusts.

Each region will be expected to use the funding to advance their record over the next two years and then provide “blueprints” for the rest of the NHS to follow.

In total, 10 regions submitted bids to join the programme. NHS England refused to confirm which other regions had bid, but HSJ understands there were bids from West Midlands, Bristol and parts of the South West, and Liverpool and Lancashire.  

The regional records are part of a wider national effort to collect, link and share more NHS patient data for use in direct care, planning and research. It is the first large scale attempt since the controversial Care.data scheme was stopped in 2016.

In January 2017, HSJ revealed NHS England’s plans to collect data through regional data schemes, primarily for planning and improving care quality, which would then be connected to what was then described as a national “data lake”.

In August, the government’s life science industrial strategy proposed creating regional health data research hubs, initially between two and five, covering up to 5 million people each, which would link into these new regional records.

NHS England has since downplayed the significance of a national “data lake”, preferring to focus on the regional schemes.

Mr Smart said: “By sharing information across a larger population, we can ensure that as people move across the different parts of the NHS and social care they don’t have to repeat themselves and provide the same information time and again.”