On August 31, 2021, NHSX published a set of guidelines for digitized healthcare, including the Unified Tech Fund (UTF) prospectus, which seeks to simplify and consolidate the process for accessing technology funding. The UTF brings together several national technology funds. This amounts to £680 million available to NHS organizations throughout the financial year 2021 to 2022.
Total funding for 2021 to 2022 available to the system differs for certain funds:
- Digital pharmacy, optometry, dental, ambulance and community (PODAC) - capital funding of £2.5 million and revenue funding of £500,000 for the ambulance sector; capital funding of £2.5 million and revenue funding of £500,000 for the community sector;
- Frontline Digitisation - capital funding of £263 million and revenue funding of £45 million;
- Digital Productivity - capital funding of £4 million;
- Cybersecurity Infrastructure - capital funding of up to £27 million;
- Diagnostics - capital funding of £235 million;
- Shared Care Records - capital funding of £50 million;
- Digital maternity - combined capital and revenue funding of £50 million;
- Digital Child Health - this is expected to be confirmed later in the year.
Applicants may submit applications for more than one fund. Applicants cannot be awarded from multiple funds for the same purpose. Alignment with the specific criteria of the funds is required. For all applications submitted, it should be ensured that:
- Applicants demonstrate that they have worked across their Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Organizations to ensure that investment proposals align with their local system needs;
- Requests are reviewed and approved by regional and ICS teams;
- Bids focus on leveling up and innovation within the ICS;
- Bids would need to be consistent with the Digital Transformation Plan for Health and Care and the What Good Looks Like guidance.
The applications submission is open from August 31, 2021. The application process is available online here. Deadlines for submission differs for certain funds:
- Digital PODAC - October 7, 2021;
- Frontline Digitisation - October 15, 2021;
- Digital Productivity - November 30, 2021;
- Cybersecurity Infrastructure - December 23, 2021;
- Diagnostics - December 23, 2021;
- Shared Care Records - March 22, 2022;
- Digital Child Health and Digital Maternity funds will not be taking applications until October 18, 2021. However, it is possible to register the interest for these funds in the application form.
Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis. Applicants will be provided with a digital mechanism for tracking the progress of their application. Upon approval, applicants will be made aware of their allocation, which will be accompanied by the appropriate agreement, for example, a memorandum of understanding to allow the funding to be administered. Some programs, such as Frontline Digitisation, may ask for more detailed requirements.
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