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NHS England - Transformation Directorate

Adoption Fund 2022-2023: further information

If you have any questions about the application process for any of the three clinical workstreams, refer to the questions below in the first instance. If you cannot find your answer, email and include the specialty in the subject line.

When was the launch webinar?

The webinar was held on Monday 4th July 12.30-1.30pm. Email if you are an NHS employee and would like to access the recording.

The application process

Can an application include a list of technology partners we want to choose from?

Yes. Before applying, you may be already considering a number of different technologies or technology partners and your choice should be included in the application form, where possible. However, if there are several that can be used to perform the function intended, these can be listed; as long as they are accompanied by a clear procurement plan and route to market in line with your programme delivery dates.

Can I speak to someone at NHSE about the application process?

The webinar recording above goes into detail about the application process. If you have watched the webinar and still need assistance, please email our team on Adoption.Fund@nhs.net.

Who is suitable to be the named Senior Responsible Officer in an application?

The Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) is the person responsible for the governance and overall delivery of the programme of work the funding is allocated to (such as Transformation Lead).

Who is suitable to be the named Finance Lead (Approver) in an application?

The Finance Lead (Approver) is the person responsible for receiving the money at the lead organisation for the proposed work (such as director of finance within an ICS).

Will applications be considered from outside of the NHS?

Applications are welcomed from ICSs within the NHS in England. Technology or other commercial partners are not eligible to apply to the fund.

Supporting information for your application

Please be mindful there is a word count for each section to ensure a fair application process. While we welcome visuals and screenshots to support your application, please include these as an appendix and use the application form for written responses to questions.

How will you decide who gets funding?

The application form will be the main way for us to assess your proposed work and make a decision on funding. On some occasions we may get in contact with follow up questions or for clarification. All sections in the application form are scored (apart from the capability self-assessment section). Applications will be reviewed by our team and an independent specialist panel of experts for each pathway.

Funding

Which organisations are eligible to apply for this funding?

NHS ICSs are eligible to apply. Each application should come from one ICS only. Suppliers, innovators and private companies must partner with an ICS who must submit the application.

However, the application form can be filled in and submitted on behalf of an ICS by one of their partners; for example, the provider organisation that is to deliver the project. Where the application form and / or ownership of the programme delivery rests with a provider organisation, such as an NHS trust, they must include a named contact from their ICS on their application form but can complete the form on their behalf.

If we have a private provider within our ICS providing services to NHS patients in a particular borough, can they request for funding with the ICS?

All NHS-funded and NHS-commissioned organisations that provide NHS care to NHS patients can be involved with a project. However, the ICS is the sole organisation that can receive the funding from NHS England subject to satisfactory application process and agreed MOU.

What type of funding is available?

All funding is revenue only.

Would funding be considered for a project that is already underway?

Yes. The funding is for new programmes of work or to extend a small scale pilot that has had proven success.

How does this funding offer fit in with other funding awards available to ICSs or NHS regions?

This funding is designed for relatively small scale implementation of new digital innovations that can support the specialties noted. It is not for scaling existing products that have already been implemented at significant scale. We are working closely with regional colleagues to ensure no duplication of activity occurs within a given system.

Do we have to spend the full amount allocated or can we submit a bid for more or less?

You can submit an application for more or less than the allocated amount per ICS but it is unlikely at this stage we will be able to fund above the allocated amount stated. If you are successful with a smaller bid, the money left over will be used to fund another ICS innovation.

Can you apply to more than one funding stream?

Each ICS can apply for as many funding streams as appropriate, but a separate application form must be completed for each one.

Can you include more than one digital solution within one application?

Yes, there is no limit to the number of digital solutions within the same funding stream.

When does the money have to be spent?

All applications must have a clear and deliverable procurement plan to ensure products are procured and in place in pathways by 31 March 2023.

Procurement

Are successful ICS bids expected to run a procurement / tender exercise through a framework to select the appropriate digital solution / RPM provider before implementation?

Before applying, the emphasis is upon the NHS organisation(s) to engage directly with technology partners to work through the planning for any application. NHSE is not able to engage directly in relationships between NHS organisations or systems either during the award application process or at other times so as to maintain openness and fairness and to avoid any unfair advantage or disadvantage to any technology partners.

At the application stage, ICSs should have a clear procurement plan in place, in line with local Standard Financial Instructions (SFIs), but the procurement/render exercise can happen after the successful bids have been approved.

How should local procurement happen?

Procurement should be from an approved framework and follow local procurement guidelines.

Scale

How many organisations or sites need to implement the proposed solution outlined in the application?

We would expect at least two sites or organisations within an ICS to be involved in implementing the proposed solution. This will help showcase that the solution can be replicated in more than one environment. Applicants can detail the scale, spread and depth of their plan in their application. Size, footprint, activity levels and populations served will differ depending on the project, but we will take into account the number of patients that will benefit from the project. However, in addition to a large patient reach, the Adoption Fund is also aimed at those projects which embed technology at a small enough scale to show both qualitative and quantitative local benefits, as well as also how it could be replicated and rolled out rapidly elsewhere.

DTAC: a brief introduction

The Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) for health and social care process gives staff, patients and citizens confidence that the digital health tools they use meet our clinical safety, data protection, technical security, interoperability and usability and accessibility standards.

The DTAC brings together legislation and good practice in these areas. It is the new national baseline criteria for digital health technologies entering into the NHS and social care.

The DTAC is designed to be used by healthcare organisations to assess suppliers at the point of procurement or as part of a due diligence process, to make sure new digital technologies meet our minimum baseline standards. For developers, it sets out what is expected for entry into the NHS and social care.

Please visit the link above for:

  • the DTAC form
  • guidance
  • background & additional information

What level of DTAC clearance/approval do we need for proposed technology solutions?

All winning bids need to commit to:

  • meet the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC)
  • assign a Clinical Safety Officer (CSO) who must fulfil obligations under DCB 0160 clinical safety standards and complete a clinical safety case report including clinical risk and hazard analysis
  • undertake a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) and put in place appropriate organisational measures to protect patient data.

While the DTAC section in the application form should be completed by the ICS, the DTAC assessment itself must be undertaken by each separate NHS organisation using the technology in question.

Delivery

What will be expected from successful applicants?

All successful applicants will need to meet the outlined expectations of the programme in order to meet funding requirements. These are to:

  • complete and sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within an agreed timeframe
  • submit a delivery plan which includes, but not limited to, the below milestones
    • Finalised contract / procurement of supplier
    • Completion of Information Governance sign-off where applicable
    • Completion of IT integration where applicable
    • Recruitment of additional staff where applicable
    • Completion of staff training
    • Identification of suitable patient / staff cohorts to pilot the innovations
    • Predicted go-live date
    • Collection of first round of user feedback
  • finalise procurement and go live with the innovation within an agreed timeframe
  • submit baseline data as agreed with the specialty team within one month of signing the MOU
  • provide agreed data for 12 months from the point of go-live
  • submit monthly progress report against milestones and associated data items
  • attend and participate at regular share-and-learn sessions
  • provide at least one case study in line with the programme requirements

Please refer to the capability self-assessment at the beginning of the application form to ensure you understand and will be able to meet the expectations and prerequisites before submitting your application.

What support will be available to successful applicants?

Each project team will have:

  • regular share and learn sessions with other successful partners to support project success, on relevant topics that of interest and importance to all
  • an opportunity to further collaborate with other partners
  • 1-to-1 meetings with the programme team to seek further guidance, advice and support
  • a FutureNHS collaboration space hosting resources, contact details and discussion forums with fellow Adoption Fund partners
  • advisory group governance from specialists within the field of your workstream to help direct each project towards success
  • support at hand for you to contact regarding any queries.

Will this fund primarily be used to level up those ICSs which aren't as digitally advanced as others, or will more digitally advanced ICSs also be considered (or even prioritised)?

The Adoption Fund is open to all ICSs equally, as long as the project supports implementation and local testing of new digital innovations that have proven success in the NHS.

Are there any exclusions to applying for funding this year?

The main exclusion criteria in this year's funding award is to ensure the project for which you are applying for funding is not already funded by another nationally-funded programme in the same ICS, or encompassing the same geography (such as the Digital Health Partnership awards).

We ask all applicants to provide details in the application form if they have already received or anticipate any other national NHS funding, to ensure the Adoption Fund will complement, but not replace, or duplicate, other funds.

We were successful in obtaining adoption funding last year. Are we eligible to apply again for the same speciality?

ICSs that have already been successful through the Adoption Fund process in previous rounds are welcome to apply again. As long as the new project meets the 2022/23 priorities, all previous Adoption Fund award winners are eligible to apply again for the same speciality.

Applicants will not be awarded from the Adoption Fund for the same project as previous years.

Can other partners (such as AHSNs) be used to support a business case for longer-term sustainability and adoption and spread?

Yes, we encourage all appropriate partners to work together to make the project a success.

Does it require match funding?

No, match-funding is not required, but successful applicants will need to confirm a level of future commitment including resources required for the project.

Is it recurrent or non-recurrent funding?

The funding is non-recurrent.

Can you share the details of the previously successful adoption fund projects?

You can access details of previous projects.

Will CORE20Plus5 populations be prioritised for funding?

Please outline in section 9 of your application form how your project will address barriers to digital inclusion. You may include reference to the Core20Plus5 approach as appropriate. The section is scored.

Will there be a suggested list of innovations or solutions?

Examples of technology can be found within the digital playbooks. Please note that we do not endorse, or have a financial interest in, any of the products mentioned in the playbooks: see here for a full legal disclaimer. You may also wish to speak to your AHSN.

What is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will need to be signed? Is this with the provider organisations or with the ICS?

An MOU will be shared with the successful applicants via their lead ICS. This sets out the details of arrangements of the funding and the conditions of participation. The MOU can be signed by either the ICS or a lead organisation on behalf of the ICS.

Will the funding go to the NHS organisations or to the ICS?

Funding will go to the ICS. Please ensure that the ICS finance team is aware of the application and the ICS is able to accept the funding, should it be awarded.

Is patient and public involvement (PPI) a requirement for the application?

Yes, we encourage working with patients and the public. You will be asked to describe how your project demonstrates coproduction and that patients are involved in section 9.

How can we determine sustainability for these digital solutions?

Applicants will need to commit to the longer-term sustainability of the project by ensuring there is local ownership and accountability for the ongoing success of the project beyond the initial year's funding. A business case should be completed for the project to receive continued funding locally.

How long is the project expected to run for?

It is expected that each project will ‘go live’ by March 2023 with emerging benefits reported to us at that stage. Each successful applicant will need to submit a report to the national programme team on a monthly basis for at least 12 months from the go-live date during 2023/2024, as well as complete a case study showing evidence of benefits realisation and outcomes once the project has finished.

Could an ICS be successful in all three categories or is it maximum one each?

Yes, an ICS is able to apply for all three categories. If they are strong applications then they could be successful and receive funding for all three.

Is the scoring criteria available?

Yes, weighting for each category within the application form is below:

Scoring criteria

In addition to the scores awarded to application form answers, the application must be supported by an ICS Finance Lead and an ICS Digital Lead. We will seek to clarify this with applicants if this is not made clear in the applications we receive, as we are unable to progress applications that do not have the endorsement of key roles and colleagues within the ICS.

In addition, NHS England regions will also be asked to comment on applications, and we will take these into into account when making funding decisions.

Will there be a move to focus on a small number of innovations and solutions rather than introducing lots of different ones across these key areas?

With the extensive range of digital solutions available across health and care, there are significant benefits to ICSs and providers adopting technologies that can be integrated with existing systems such as the NHS app or local electronic patient records, as well as delivering common digital functionalities required by multiple specialties. This need not be through a single unified solution but interoperability is very important.

Is baseline data only required from successful applications?

Yes, this is for successful applicants only, following the award being made.

Can an application be made that covers two ICSs?

Every application must have a lead ICS, as the funding will be awarded and transferred to a single ICS. The maximum funding that any single application can request is £200k. However, a single application's project may cover a footprint or area which falls under two separate ICSs, if it is particularly large in scale or because of where the ICS border falls. Therefore, provided the above prerequisites are met, we will accept and consider applications that deliver benefits to populations of two separate ICSs. It is important to bear in mind, though, that the aim of the Adoption Fund is to locally adopt beneficial innovation, rather than to scale up to the maximum footprint.

Can you have more than one technology partner?

Yes, although applicants should consider their ability to implement two technologies in the available time.

Given the relative fast delivery timescales, are there recommended solutions which could be easily implemented?

We don’t recommend any particular solutions but would advise applicants to take into consideration the timescales of the project when choosing any technology.

Will interventions with a stronger evidence base be favoured? Is this funding for systems which have already been built?

The Adoption Fund aims to help embed innovations with existing evidence in the NHS, rather than completely untested solutions, although the existing real-world NHS evidence can be at a relatively small scale. We will look at all submissions and score them based on the scoring criteria, the priority areas for each specialty and the potential for the benefits listed on the application form to be realised.

Where can I locate an Equality and Health Inequalities Impact Assessment (EHIA) template to complete?

Please check with your local governance team and use the local EHIA form as appropriate.

Specialty-specific questions

Gastroenterology

What is meant by 'digital therapeutics' when looking at ‘Priority 1: Digital Transformation in IBS pathways’?

'Digital therapeutics' refers to an app, web portal/platform or device that offers treatment for a condition which the patient can undertake at home, or outside of a care setting. This can be in the form of behavioural modifications, psychology, mindfulness support, sleep analysis or advice which improves their condition. It is not a diagnostic tool, such as home faecal calprotectin testing.

Respiratory

Does the priority area cover Long-Covid rehabilitation or COPD?

No, the priority area for the respiratory specialty is asthma care, both annual management through the regular review as well as patient-facing interventions for self-management.

Can the application be focused on children's asthma, or is it just adult?

We welcome applications for projects and innovations that have the largest patient population impact and apply to all age groups. However, many NHS services and processes are segmented by age groups, so do explain in your application the rationale for focusing on any specific group of patients.

Which specialty would apply for a COVID rehabilitation service that provides a combination of treatment for MSK/respiratory symptoms post-COVID?

The respiratory specialty priority area is Asthma, so COVID rehabilitation is not within scope.

Is funding aimed more towards primary care, community respiratory teams or hospital-based care?

Any organisation named by an ICS within the application that is able to undertake the work can participate as delivery partner, as long as it is NHS-commissioned and delivering NHS-funded care to NHS patients.