The complex national IT system that provides the foundation for round-the-clock patient care has been successfully rebuilt.
The NHS Spine is the electronic backbone of the NHS and care organisations, health professionals in England who rely on it have be able to securely access its system and services during a major transition to a new technologically advanced version.
Over a dozen national IT systems and services have been transferred to the new Spine within just a weekend, after months of planning, testing and development.
The new programme was built in-house by HSCIC in collaboration with agile software firm BJSS, with support from a number of smaller specialist firms.
HSCIC claims that the new system is much more flexible and represents a design step change away from the earlier centralised product.
“We have harnessed the latest technology to rebuild the most important NHS electronic system, built over 10 years and today relied upon by hundreds of thousands of health staff and patients every single day,” claimed the Centre’s chief executive Andy Williams.
“Of equal importance is we have ensured value for money – by bringing the system in-house the day-to-day running costs are set to fall substantially,” he added.
The next stage of the project involves closely monitoring Spine services and systems, supporting suppliers and users and providing assistance to resolve any issues.
Spine is available at all times, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, on average 99.7% of the time.
This is despite an increasing amount of traffic – around 400 million electronic messages are sent a month and more than 2.6 billion information requests and amends each year.
“The new Spine has been built using an Agile approach, which means it is responsive to the changing requirements of patients, health professionals and the NHS as a whole,” claimed HSCIC director of operations and assurance services Rob Shaw.
“As services develop we can change or add news ones quickly and without impact on other parts of the system,” he added.
Shaw also explained that the phased approach towards moving to the new system was planned to minimise disruption over the weekend and patient care could continue without issue.
A “switch off, switch on” approach was deliberately avoided so there was no gaps in critical NHS services.