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NHS national IT system marks first birthday with 21 million pound saving

03 September 2015: The NHS has saved more than twenty million pounds in the last year alone after one of its most critical IT systems was redeveloped by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Running costs of the new NHS Spine, which provides the foundation for 24/7 patient care and handles up to 1,800 electronic transactions per second, have been cut by £21 million compared to the predecessor system.

In addition system response times have reduced by almost 90 per cent, meaning 750 hours in total are being saved across the NHS in England every single day.

Spine is the technological backbone of the NHS and part of the Critical National Infrastructure, supporting care and enabling a smooth-running NHS for more than 20,000 organisations, including hospitals, GP surgeries, Ambulance Trusts and pharmacies.

Last year the new Spine was launched by the HSCIC in a project that involved the safe transfer of more than over 40 terabytes of data and only five minutes of planned downtime.

Built in-house by the HSCIC in collaboration with agile software specialists BJSS, the new Spine is supported by a number of smaller specialist firms, including open source experts Basho, using cutting edge technology.

Just before reaching its first birthday, the new Spine successfully dealt with a record number of electronic registrations for junior doctors starting work with the NHS.

At the height of activity, almost 3,200 new registrations were handled by the Spine in one day alone with no impact on service, a 37 per cent increase on the equivalent day in the previous year.

HSCIC Director of Operations and Assurance Services Rob Shaw said: "Spine's first birthday is testament to what can be achieved within 12 months in-house by a talented team working hand-in-hand with smaller, specialist firms.

"The savings, both in pounds and in precious hours, which we have achieved for the NHS in this first year alone, are clear but there is still work to be done. We have deliberately designed the system to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of individual care organisations, which means it best meets the needs of NHS staff with new systems; improved speed and functionality.

"Our aim is for much more to be achieved to the benefit of patients and the NHS before Spine celebrates another birthday, and indeed beyond, as it continues to play a vital role as one of the most vital IT systems in this country."


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 260 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. For media queries or interview requests please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.

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