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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

What we did in 2021-22

We manage and support a range of vital systems and services for the health and care system. It is our job to ensure they perform effectively and are reliable and secure. In 2021-22, we responded rapidly to changing service demands while improving cloud and private hosting arrangements, network connectivity and workplace collaboration tools.

We had a significant impact:
  • a Summary Care Record was viewed every 2.2 seconds in October 2021 

  • outbound telephony for general practices was introduced in December 2021, enabling surgeries to make anonymised outbound-only calls to patients through Microsoft Teams. Between December 2021 and March 2022, 300,000 calls were connected – an additional 1.39 million minutes of outbound call time

  • we supported the COVID-19 vaccination programme by rapidly connecting 150 vaccination sites

Throughout the year, we supported the COVID-19 response, maintaining high availability across all services. Our average availability for the last 6 months of 2021 was 96%, which increased to 98% in the first quarter of 2022. We also delivered more than 30 new transformed services.

In September 2021, our Customer Service Function, which includes the Contact Centre (NHS Digital Enquiries), National Service Desk, Exeter Helpdesk, Information Standards Desk and the NHS UK Helpline, won the Contact Centre of the Year in the medium category at the UK National Contact Centre Awards, the longest-running awards programme in the UK call centre industry. The function, which provides support to internal and external customers including NHS staff, health sector service providers and the public, experienced an increased workload in the year, partly because of greater use of services such as the NHS App, NHS login and NHS COVID Pass. In a normal year, we handle around 900,000 requests, enquiries, incident contacts and transactions. In 2021-22, we had passed that number by September. Between May and September 2021, the team worked with the GP Data for Planning and Research programme to manage an extraordinary spike of activity. More than 87,000 contacts were logged across this period for this service alone, with contact peaking at 6,000 calls in a single day.

Summary Care Record (SCR) views reached a record-high of more than 290,000 views per week in early 2022. SCRs are created from GP medical records and give authorised clinicians outside a GP practice access to key information about their patients. As of October 2021, an SCR was viewed every 2.2 seconds.

More than 87,000 contacts

logged by our Customer Service Function between May and September 2021, with contact peaking at 6,000 calls in a single day

In 2021-22, we laid the groundwork and made significant progress in moving to ServiceNow as a single IT service management software solution. Our current 4 systems are being replaced in a phased approach by the single system, which will enable real-time insight into our services and streamline the rolling out of improvements and new services. Release 1 has gone live and production running is stable. We are seeing a range of immediate improvements in IT Operations Centre capability, commercial process and delivery, HR tooling, workforce management and customer service management.

Our Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) aims to support the successful adoption of cloud services and optimise the way we consume and operate them, while reducing infrastructure costs and our carbon footprint. So far, our CCoE foundation services have delivered £14 million of savings through more efficient cloud consumption and have dramatically improved cloud security and best practice compliance. In 2021-22, our CCoE team also trialled a ‘community cloud’ concept. 

Working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the pregnancy charity Tommy’s, we established high-quality cloud hosting arrangements for a new pregnancy app that uses clinically validated algorithms to accurately assess risk and personalise care for pregnant women – improving pregnancy outcomes for thousands of women each year. We built a cloud landing zone within our Azure subscription, which means the app is scalable and benefits from both our preferential pricing plans with Azure and the OneGov Cloud arrangements, as well as a number of security features.

We successfully managed the timely migration of 120 services and 875 servers from HM Land Registry data centres to new cloud and Crown Hosting environments with no service disruption. As well as meeting the challenge of exiting the data centres before their planned closure, this work has helped to rationalise the on premises infrastructure estate, bringing technical and sustainability benefits.

In 2021-22, we continued to support the NHS’s growing demand for connectivity. We upgraded nearly 900 NHS sites that had been using slow and unreliable copper based connections and supported the COVID-19 vaccination programme by rapidly connecting 150 vaccination sites. We have begun work to ensure the NHS has access to gigabit-capable connectivity and that care homes are supported to access high-speed connectivity services.

During the year, we began a series of wireless connectivity trials, demonstrating how wireless technologies can support service transformation and improve health outcomes. As part of our Future Wireless Project Trials, a Find and Treat mobile health unit is using roaming 4G, 5G and satellite connectivity to offer onboard screening, testing and treatment for vulnerable and homeless people to tackle diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis B and C. Deployed from University College London Hospitals, our technology has transformed the unit’s connectivity while on the streets, helping some of society’s most vulnerable people get the care they need.

In 2020, we completed the transition to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and in 2021-22 we laid the groundwork and completed the procurement exercise to replace a central piece of HSCN’s underlying infrastructure, known as the Peering Exchange Service, by January 2023. The HSCN Peering Exchange Service ensures the 950 NHS, social care, private sector and local authority organisations connected to the network can pick from a marketplace of 21 different suppliers providing standardised network services.

NHSmail users

have sent 299 million chat messages, made 31.7 million calls and scheduled 66 million meetings via Microsoft Teams

The NHSmail service provides Exchange Online and Office 365 applications and resources to NHS staff. In 2021-22, NHSmail users sent 299 million chat messages, made 31.7 million calls and scheduled 66 million meetings through Microsoft Teams. Based on research by Imperial College Healthcare Trust, these meetings and calls may have saved the equivalent of 6 million hours of staff time. In June 2021, we introduced the Teams Cloud Video Interoperability service for NHSmail, enabling users to join Microsoft Teams calls from video teleconferencing devices by dialling the address included in a meeting invite from an organiser with access to the service.

We introduced outbound telephony for general practices in December 2021 to ease pressure on phone capacity at GP surgeries. Participating general practices are able to use Microsoft Teams to make anonymised outbound-only calls to their patients, independent of their existing telephone solutions, freeing up their current lines for incoming calls. This cloud-based functionality does not require the installation of additional physical equipment and has increased telephone capacity at no extra cost to practices. Between December 2021 and March 2022, 300,000 calls were connected.

We also support NHS Digital staff to work efficiently and effectively by providing internal technical services. We supported NHS Digital’s move to the Leeds Hub, providing network connectivity, IT equipment across all desks, a new booking system for rooms, desks and car parking, and a new TechHub. In autumn 2021, we onboarded National Disease Registration Service staff moving from Public Health England to NHS Digital, providing devices and user accounts for more than 300 members of staff and setting up TechHub sessions to ensure a smooth transition for each staff member.

The IT Operations Directorate ensures new and evolving services receive the necessary technical assurance. During August 2021, we fully assured all point of care suppliers for flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as testing and assuring the changes required to inbound and outbound data flows. We worked closely with the Clinical Safety Group to ensure they had sufficient time to complete their work.

Case study: Find and Treat mobile health unit

Outreach worker Adrian Noctor tells us how the Find and Treat mobile health clinic is helping some of the most vulnerable in our society get the care they need.

As part of our Future Wireless Project Trials, the Find and Treat mobile health unit aims to tackle a wide range of infectious and chronic diseases by screening, diagnosing and treating vulnerable, homeless and high-risk people.

The service, which is deployed from University College London Hospitals, has been fitted with a range of high-tech tools and software to enable real-time remote diagnosis and referrals without having to visit a hospital.

"The new technology allows a crew – normally 3 or 4 people on the mobile x-ray unit and 2 or 3 on the smaller blood-borne virus van – to reach more people," says Adrian.

Image of Adrian Noctor

There’s always someone like me knocking on doors and getting people to come out to the van. We will visit homeless hostels, soup kitchens, day centres and immigration assessment locations. We look for anyone classed as a vulnerable adult.

"The 2 vans work together as often as possible. If you want to get someone out of their room and you’ve got 5 checks on offer, they might think I’ll do one, but once you’ve got them downstairs, they’ll probably do 2 or 3."

"By actively finding people and bringing a vehicle like this to them, it shows that their health is important and that we care."

Last edited: 17 October 2022 3:45 pm