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Digital Health Partnership awards – What we need to do next

Channel 3 discusses the benefits of the Digital Health Partnership awards, which have been created to help NHS organisations in England to bid for funding to accelerate the adoption of digital health technologies. What opportunities were missed and what lessons can be learned ahead of the next round funding?

Channel 3 is proud to have supported several organisations in the initial round of Digital Health Partnership funding.  We’re thrilled that our work with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) was recognised by the awarding team and we look forward to working with GSTT in providing citizens with an end-to-end, ‘digital first’ MSK pathway.

The fund is a fantastic idea that will provide a range of benefits and opportunities across several trusts. The positives are clear to see, however, there is something to be said regarding the dispersal of the funding – from a geographic and service perspective.

Here is the full list of awards:

Table showing phase 1 Digital Health Partnership award winners

Digital Health Partnership awards – a missed opportunity?

It could be argued that the first round of DHP funding missed the opportunity to address parts of the health and care system which remain less well-served by digital innovation.

For us at Channel 3, we are left to wonder whether those of us working in community and, particularly, mental health services have been overlooked.

Despite the aim of levelling up, did the awards focus on those already providing strong digital support to their communities?

An unbalanced set of awards?

All but three of the awards were focused on London and the South – with two awards in the North East and Yorkshire region and one in the Midlands.  The North West, one of the most innovative parts of the country for health and care, saw no awards.

Geographical spread of Digital Health Partnership award winners

The awards predominantly serve metropolitan and urban areas, in fact, only two of the fourteen awards were to services provided for rural or semi-rural communities.  The London metropolitan region gained six awards.

Services spread of Digital Health Partnership award winners

A missed chance to support community mental health services?

Over half of the awards were in support of significant work in the acute sector, serving therapeutic areas including COPD, diabetes and MSK. Whereas only a single award focussed on community and mental health services.

Most noticeable in the awards is the important project in East London providing support for young people and their families with untreated eating disorders.

Pie chart of DHP award winners

Channel 3’s view

We celebrate all those awarded funding through this initial round. Having worked with successful and yet to be successful bidders we know the huge amount of hard work that has gone into bids.  Broad stakeholder groups have been mobilised to ensure support extends beyond the funding period to ensure sustainable futures for these digital innovations.

But we are concerned that the wide range of bids resulted in a set of awards that focussed on acute care in metropolitan centres when there is as much (if not more) need in rural communities where digital innovation can improve the lives of those facing physical and mental challenges.

The aspiration to pursue levelling up is one Channel 3 actively encourages and we have invested in supporting bids from across England.  We hope that the next phase of funding – find more information here – focuses attention on driving digital advances in community and mental health services in diverse environments and Channel 3 are in a great position to support those that either missed out on the last round or are considering the next round. Collaboration is key in delivering gold-standard blueprints and we can help to lift the burdens of not only delivering the project but also in driving the bid forward. Speak to us to find out how we can support you with your plans.

Finally, some of the most dramatic impacts of digital can be felt in mental health – let’s make sure that the next round of awards recognises this.

Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your organisation capture and realise your digital vision.

Call 020 3866 4838 or email info@channel3consulting.co.uk

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