Key NHS technology programme extended to ambulance trusts

NHS England has announced three ambulance trusts will share £10m to help improve patient care by developing into world class digital organisations.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) and North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) are the first to join the ambulance version of the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme.

The three trusts will share an investment of £5m over two and a half years, which they will be expected to match fund, taking total investment to £10m as they develop into Global Digital Exemplars.

Selected in part because of a track record of digital delivery, South Central, West Midlands and North East Ambulance Services will be expected to focus on areas including: ensuring clinicians have access to patient records; use of remote diagnostics such as video consultations and ensuring vehicles have WiFi access.

Professor Jonathan Benger, National Clinical Director for Urgent and Emergency Care at NHS England, said, “I am delighted this flagship digital transformation programme has been extended to ambulance trusts which are on the frontline of NHS care. Digital technology has the potential to transform ways of working and improve patient care in ambulance trusts, from ensuring paramedics can access a patient’s medical record to improving trust efficiency in systems behind the scenes.”

Speaking on 24 January, Will Smart, Chief Information Officer for Health and Care, said, “We have taken a different approach with the ambulance branch of the GDE programme and are today asking the three successful trusts to think of ways in which they can work together to drive improvements through the use of digital technology. By stepping up to become world class these three trusts will join the most digitally advanced healthcare organisations across the globe and help deliver a sustainable and transformed NHS.”

Vince Weldon, Associate Director of Information Management & Technology at SCAS, said, “This recognition of the trust’s investment in technology over many years to improve patient care and make our staff more effective will allow us to fast-track the next iteration of developments in the digital age. In particular we will see enhanced use of our vehicles as digital hubs, improved forecasting and planning based on the use of wide ranging data, and direct access for our clinicians (both on the telephone and at the patient’s side) to shared and current care information, all of which will improve our ability still further to provide the right care, first time to the people we serve.”

The addition of three trusts onto the ambulance version of the Global Digital Exemplar programme brings the total investment in the GDE programme up to £280m (or £560m if match funding is included).

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