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NHS and Microsoft strike ‘landmark’ IT deal

Image credit: Dreamstime

NHS organisations in England will soon be given access to Microsoft Office 365 services, in a deal which NHSX claims will save the health service hundreds of millions of pounds.

The deal has been struck between Microsoft, NHSX (the health service’s new innovation branch) and NHS Digital, creating what was described as a “truly joined-up NHS”.

The announcement follows a 2018 agreement with Microsoft, in which the company agreed to provide the NHS with Windows 10 and protection against future cyber attacks, like the disruptive WannaCry ransomware attack of May 2017.

The National Audit Office concluded after the attack that the impact may have been lessened had the NHS been running less outdated software.

It is hoped that this new deal will allow for seamless communication and information sharing across NHS bodies in England. It is estimated that 1.2 million staff will gain access to Microsoft services such as Microsoft Teams (which is being used by NHS bodies to help coordinate the Covid-19 response), Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security.

The agreement will last until at least April 2023.

“The most up-to-date digital tools and operating systems are crucial for a modern-day NHS, allowing staff to work as efficiently as possible and deliver even better care for patients,” said Matt Hancock, the health secretary. “We have seen incredible, innovative uses of technology throughout the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and this new deal with Microsoft will pave the way for that to continue by ensuring we get the basics right.”

Although the value of the agreement has not been disclosed, NHSX CEO Matthew Gould claimed that the deal would save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds, ensuring “the best possible value for taxpayers”.

“This is a direct result of negotiations led jointly by NHSX and NHS Digital,” he said. “It means staff will have access to the best possible collaboration and productivity tools and that our cyber defences are as strong as possible.”

CEO of NHS Digital Sarah Wilkinson said that the deal will “derive productivity and collaboration benefits from the use of numerous Microsoft products and will strengthen cyber security across the system.”

It is also hoped that access to Microsoft Office 365 tools will support remote working, something to which many NHS staff have suddenly found themselves having to adapt amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK, commented: “Since Covid-19, the NHS has rapidly accelerated its adoption of digital tools to enable clinicians and support staff to perform their life-saving work more effectively. This agreement ensures NHS organisations across England have access to modern productivity tools and solutions necessary to delivering better patient outcomes now and in the future.”

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