Rebuilding NHS Spine
Healthcare | Journey to Enterprise Agile
NHS Spine is the world’s largest public healthcare platform and forms part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure. It supports major NHS business applications, providing interoperability and the sharing of data across various healthcare systems. BJSS managed a major programme to rebuild Spine, securely transferring the entire NHS onto this new, improved system.
The legacy system was unwieldy and costly to maintain. It comprised a very large bespoke codebase, many servers and other hardware that relied on a large number of complex underlying software components, all of which were proprietary. The requirements were clear: build and deploy a replacement system to reduce development, support and license costs, and increase reliability, performance and resilience.
As the strategic delivery partner for NHS Digital, BJSS was engaged to completely re-architect, re-engineer and rebuild Spine using Open Source products and Agile ways of working.
Automation is integral to the ability to support rapid and cost-effective change. Spine now includes comprehensive end-to-end test, deployment, service recovery and operational automation. This has resulted in a significant reduction in administrative overheads in comparison to the legacy system and has made it easier to make changes to the system.
The system’s new codebase is more efficient and easier to maintain, delivering a tenfold improvement in performance despite requiring just one-tenth of the legacy system’s infrastructure.
With virtually no disruption or downtime, BJSS and NHS Digital delivered a major programme to rebuild Spine using Open Source products, securely transferring the entire NHS to this improved system and delivering increased reliability, performance and resilience and dramatically reduced costs. Resourcing and operational costs have been reduced by over £21m per year thanks to commodity hardware and Open Source software. With the new system in place, the NHS is now able to respond more quickly to change.
All linked services rely on data managed by Spine, including; 65 million Summary Care Records and 92 million personal demographic records generated by 28,000 healthcare IT systems in 21,000 care organisations across the country. As a result, health and social care workers have greater and secure access to the critical patient information they need to deliver a high standard of care. Authorised third parties such as pharmacies, also have access to this secure data via the Electronic Prescription Service, which makes the prescribing and dispensing process more efficient.
According to NHS Digital, since the Spine system went live it has helped to save over £130 million for the NHS. Additionally, 750 working hours per day are saved, helping the NHS to improve its response times by 90%. These cost and efficiency savings are crucial to the health service’s ability to reinvest in vital front-line services.
As a result of the new Spine delivery, NHS Digital has become self-sufficient in Agile ways of working and project delivery. By adapting the BJSS Enterprise Agile approach for use throughout the delivery of Spine, the NHS Digital delivery team was expertly coached in Agile project delivery. The team has been able to reduce personnel costs by working with smaller teams of multi-skilled individuals. Additionally, the team can work more quickly while keeping risk to a minimum when carrying out complex projects.