“I don’t think people realise how complicated it is to get a single data flow going,” says Vaccines Programme Manager Tom Burnett. “Once we had the data, we had to process it to make sure it matched NHS numbers. If there wasn’t a match, we had to do data-quality assessments to see if we could add one.”
That data was then flowed through to the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS), provided by one of our partners, NHS South, Central and West, as part of the National Immunisation Management Service. This system supported the programme by holding vaccination records, demographics and inviting more than 60 million people to book a vaccination. “That’s just one flow of many,” says Burnett. “There are so many different endpoints that need the data and also produce the data. You’ve also got prisons, the Ministry of Defence and schools to name just 3. We’ve been knocking down these types of barriers since September,” he says.
And, of course, nothing quite goes to plan. Spirit recalls one vaccination site in the North-East of England that didn’t appear to be getting any bookings after the National Booking Service was switched on.
“When users tried to search for that site, it wasn’t there. It turned out that the way the site’s GPS coordinates had been typed in put it in the middle of the North Sea, rather than Newcastle. Fortunately, it was something we were able to fix quickly.”
Another small site with capacity for about 150 appointments a day accidentally published tens of thousands of appointments for its first week of operations.
By the time the mistake was spotted and fixed, it had about 5,000 appointments booked over just a few days. The local team stepped up, brought in more people, and vaccinated everyone without having to cancel a single appointment.