The government and NHS England will invest £1bn to improve online access to patient records and computerised prescriptions.
The government aims to ensure that everyone can book GP appointments and order repeat prescriptions online by March 2015, as well as giving everyone the chance to access their GP records.
It is also hoped that digital records will mean that healthcare professionals will spend less time filling in paperwork and that prescribing errors will be reduced as patient notes are less likely to be lost. The government is aiming for the NHS to become paperless by 2018.
The funding is part of the government's long-term solution to ease the pressure on A&E by giving primary care professionals more time to see patients.
Hospitals, GPs and out of hours doctors will be able to share patients' electronic records. Healthcare professionals providing emergency care will be able to access a patients' complete medical details across the country for the first time, so that they can give personal and effective treatment with a complete knowledge of their medical history.
The first set of funding from the DH of £260m was announced in May and now a further £240m has been added to take the total funding for technology to £500m. Healthcare settings will be able to bid for this money, over the next three years, to improve their services but will also be expected to match the funding that they receive. NHS England is currently running a second stage evaluation of this fund and expects to announce successful bidders at the end of October.
Tim Kelsey, the national director for patients and information for NHS England, has welcomed this extra funding. 'A single patient record will help make the patient journey from hospital to home seamless, giving professionals from different health and care organisations access to information when they need it most, without patients having to repeat themselves every time they speak to a different doctor, nurse or care professional,' he said.