NHS signs nationwide £775m deal for Microsoft products

Following a one-month delay, IT reseller Bytes has been confirmed as the health service’s choice to fulfil a potential five-year contract to provide core applications to organisations across the country

NHS England has signed a deal potentially worth almost a billion pounds to provide health-service organisations across the country with core Microsoft technologies.

The award of the contract – to Bytes, one of Microsoft’s biggest UK reseller partners – comes after £8m was spent on emergency one-month extensions to the previous arrangements. This included a £163m five-year deal with Bytes for the provision of over one million Windows 10 licences, and a separate £52m contract awarded in 2020 to another IT reseller, Insight, and covering Microsoft 365 technologies.

The short-term extension took these two engagements to the end of May; the start of June marked the start of the new contract, which is intended to provide the entire NHS workforce of about 1.5 million people with core software tools, including Microsoft 365 – which brings together the vendor’s core productivity apps, such as Word, Outlook, Excel, Teams, and PowerPoint.

Also covered by the new deal – which runs for an initial term of 34 months, plus two potential one-year extensions –are Microsoft security tools. Over its lifespan, the contract “will also provide the opportunity to introduce further innovative tools from other suppliers in the future”, according to the NHS.

The listed value of the deal is £774.5m – a figure which is liable to rise to about £930m once VAT is added. The initial term of the contract will expire on 31 March 2026, but the NHS repeatedly described it as a “five-year agreement”, suggesting that it is likely to be extended to 2028.

John Quinn, chief information officer at NHS England, said that the previous agreements had demonstrated the value of undertaking procurement on a national scale – rather than asking local or regional bodies to conduct their own discrete buying processes.

“This new five-year agreement will mean we can create a platform for innovation so that NHS workers always have the latest digital tools to help them focus on frontline care,” he added. “As the NHS turns 75, this deal is part of a long history of the health service adapting to make use of the latest and greatest innovations available to deliver more productive and joined up services for patients, and gives us a strong platform to build on for the future. This is a further great example of the NHS using our collective buying power to secure market-leading products at a reduced cost for taxpayers, and our contract with Bytes means we can also explore opportunities to introduce new innovative technology over the coming years.”

Jack Watson, managing director of Bytes, said: “Bytes are delighted to strengthen our long-standing relationship with the NHS by accelerating their secure adoption of Microsoft cloud services that provide a platform for future innovation in healthcare.”

Sam Trendall

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