Digitalisation of the NHS has focused predominantly on implementing modern technologies into the health service. Automation and interoperability between systems in a single NHS organisation is all critical; yet, unless Trusts look to drive collaboration of technology to neighbouring Trusts across primary and secondary care, and mental health, the long-term digital future of the NHS will struggle to be sustainable.
The wider collaboration model has been proven to work well. Demonstrated today by a group of nine NHS organisations in the North West of England. The North West Shared Infrastructure Services (NWSIS) supports over 100,000 users and seven million members of the public, across primary, secondary and mental health organisations.
The NWSIS group started over 15 years ago and now consists of nine members who work with BDS Solutions to provide access to affordable, shared infrastructure using collective resources to maximise the effectiveness of technology.
The concept of the NWSIS is founded on collaboration, delivering joint governance and negotiation of contracts that ensures value for money. Pooling resources and sharing technology across NHS organisations is not a revolutionary idea, but one very few have managed to get working as well as the NWSIS, ably supported by BDS Solutions.
For the nine members, NWSIS has created an agile, closely aligned collaborative model that delivers effective local health and care needs, improving patient services. The centralisation of infrastructure creates a secure method to boost collaboration through the flow of information between all partners.
Forming partnerships in the NHS has been discussed as a good strategy for many years. Driven by patients expecting a better NHS, with faster diagnosis and treatment, the NHS has its sights set up shaking up the service. Introducing modern, world-class, state-of-the-art technologies that deliver the ultimate patient care.
These high aspirations to create the ultimate technologically aided care has resulted in an escalation in the number of digital projects being pushed through various NHS Trusts. All aiming to achieve their own vision of a digital NHS, but more Trusts could look at the best practice model of the NWSIS.
NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) were created to encourage cross-working partnerships between NHS organisations in defined local communities. The majority of these touched on technology as part of that plan, with many identifying the need for technologies that communicated across NHS organisations or shared systems.
The reality is that many Trusts have invested in differing systems and amalgamation is time intensive and costly. With varying priorities, the Trusts still hold this ideal of shared systems, but the practicality of how to implement the concept is challenging.
However, this strategic alignment is important and the NWSIS has proven it can be very successful. A joined-up NHS is the foundation for an agile, effective health service that meets the needs for decades to come.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Care and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, North West Ambulance Service, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
These Trusts provide IT services to a wide ecosystem, including CCGs and GPs, in their local areas, all of which benefit from the NWSIS Active Directory service.
For more information, visit our Connected Community Infrastructure page.