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Recipients of £30m fund for nursing technology unveiled

NHS England has announced that 75 trusts will receive part of a £30m government fund to buy technology for nurses, midwives and care staff.

The £30m forms the first round of investment from a total of £100m earmarked specifically for technology to support nursing staff, such as digital pens, tablets and clinical software.

The “Nursing Technology Fund” was announced by the prime minister at the end of 2012, with NHS England launching a call for applications last year.

“Equipment like this simply wasn’t available as little as 20 years ago”

Jane Cummings

It received 226 applications from 139 trusts and opted to fund 86 projects across 75 trusts.

Applications had to be led by nurses and demonstrate that funding would be used to buy technology that nurses and midwives could see would lead to improvements in patient care.

The successful projects were announced today at the national NHS EXPO conference in Manchester (see attached PDF, right, for full details).

They include Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust’s maternity department, which has received £36,550 from the fund to purchase a number of digital pens.

The devices will be used predominantly by community midwives to write on specially designed patient notes. At the end of the day the community midwife will go back to the hospital and place the pen in a docking device, which will upload the information onto a computer without the midwife having to spend time re-inputting the data.

Julie Dixon, head of midwifery and gynaecology across the trust, said: “The digital pens are a first for our maternity departments. The aim is for them to free up the time midwives spend on paperwork and thus giving them more time to look after their patients.”

She said she hoped to have the maternity service using the digital pens by the summer, after staff had received training.

Meanwhile, Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has received £1.4m from the fund for two projects.

One is a vital signs monitoring initiative, which will allow ward staff to record clinical data on hand held devices. It will mean the NEWS – national early warning score – will be calculated electronically and accurately, and support the escalation of care for deteriorating and high risk patients.

Funding will also be invested in new high specification and lightweight laptops for community nursing staff to enhance mobile working. It will mean forms can be filled with the patient.

Trust chief executive Professor Tricia Hart said: “The bids were developed by nurses – for nurses – and will allow us to develop new, more modern ways of working which will not only help to improve patient care but also benefit our staff.”

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Equipment like this simply wasn’t available as little as 20 years ago and using this kind of modern technology is part of the innovative and new ways of working we need to embrace in tackling modern health challenges.”

Jane Cummings

Jane Cummings

She added: “We received an amazing response to application process and the decisions on choosing the successful projects have been difficult. It has always come back to one key question – how will this project deliver real, practical benefits for nurses, midwives and care staff and their patients.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This fund will allow nurses and midwives to develop new, more modern ways of working that will benefit staff and patients.”

A separate fund for technology was also announced last May last year by NHS England. The £260m “Safer Hospital Safer Wards Technology” fund will support moving from paper-based systems to integrated electronic care records and e-prescribing. In September the fund was extended to £500m.

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