HSCIC finishes migration to NHS Spine 2

The Health and Social Care Information Centre has successfully moved its NHS Spine in-house after an 18-month redevelopment project. 

It said the transition and rebuild of Spine using open source software and managing it in-house had been completed without disruption.

NHS Spine stores around 150TB of data. This includes the details of 80 million people and 2.6 billion requests for information and associated amendments. The Spine, known as the “technological backbone of the NHS”, connects clinicians and patients to national services such as the Electronic Prescription Service, Summary Care Record and the e-Referral Service, which allow clinicians to deliver safe and effective care to patients.

Rob Shaw, HSCIC director of assurance services, said: “The usual practice for a big public sector project like this has been to give the whole thing to a large supplier. We decided that we could manage and make improvements to Spine more flexibly in-house, and have worked with a number of specialist SMEs to successfully deliver our aims.

“The NHS relies on the Spine in order to operate effectively, and we couldn’t afford for it to experience long periods of downtime. For this reason, we planned the transitions minute by minute to ensure that we would not affect patient care or inconvenience NHS workers any more than was absolutely necessary. In the end, we managed the entire transition with just minutes of downtime, none of which was unplanned.”

The new Spine, which is managed from HSCIC’s Leeds headquarters, is said to be the biggest public sector IT system built entirely using Open Source software. In has been claimed that in its first year the system saved the NHS £21m and the equivalent of 750 working days every day.

The first transition was completed in August 2014 when the Core Spine services were transferred to the HSCIC. In February 2015 the Care Identity Service, which manages secure access to IT services for NHS staff and the SUS database, which holds 80m patient demographic records, was moved. The project was completed on 31 January this year when MESH (Messaging Exchange for Social Care and Health) was launched and HSCIC took on responsibility for managing secure clinical messaging between Spine applications.


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