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HSCN procurement options

The central contract arrangements for N3 ceased on 31 March 2017. You can obtain HSCN services through a number of different routes, and from a list of approved suppliers, all of which is described below.

Procurement options

HSCN collaborative procurement
HSCN Suppliers
Regional Migration Manager contacts


The N3 contract for wide area data network services in the NHS ended as planned on 31 March 2017.

For a fixed amount of time, NHS Digital has put in place an HSCN Transition Network which  retains elements of the legacy N3 infrastructure and provides service continuity for existing customers. However, organisations and services connected to this need to migrate to new HSCN connectivity as soon as possible.

In order to ensure the orderly close down of the HSCN Transition Network we would like you to begin to plan and execute your migration to HSCN connectivity and exit from the Transition Network as soon as possible. There are benefits to you in doing this;

  1. HSCN services will be offered by multiple suppliers in competition with one another.  This means that you'll be able to access a wider range of HSCN network service offerings at better prices. Find a list of HSCN compliant suppliers.
  2. HSCN has enhanced security provisions that will help protect you from the cyber threats faced by the health and care sector.  
  3. Finally, over the coming months, NHS Digital will start to decommission parts of the Transition Network that no longer represent value for money to the taxpayer and we want to ensure as far as possible, that your services are migrated at a time of your choosing rather than out of necessity as a result of the Transition Network being decommissioned.

You can obtain HSCN connectivity through a number of different routes and, in order to support your migration, NHS Digital needs to understand how you wish to proceed.  

Procurement options

Advice for private sector organisations migrating to HSCN

Advice for NHS and public sector organisations migrating to HSCN

Deciding on a preferred approach

You need primarily to consider whether you have the knowledge, capability and resources for running your own procurement (either in collaboration with other organisations or on your own) or whether you would prefer NHS Digital to manage the procurement of HSCN connectivity on your behalf.

Your choice of purchasing route won't affect the HSCN connectivity services accessible to you or the level of funding devolved to NHS organisations.

If you're uncertain and don't already have clear plans to manage your own procurement of HSCN services, either in collaboration with others or on your own, we would strongly recommend you consider joining an aggregated procurement managed by NHS Digital. In this scenario you'll have the chance to input your connectivity requirements and to understand the type and cost of HSCN connectivity services available to you prior to finalising a contract for those services.

We anticipate there being numerous connectivity suppliers competing to deliver HSCN compliant services and would strongly recommend you seek to obtain HSCN connectivity via open market competition, managed by yourself or by us on your behalf, in order to ensure best value is achieved.

An overview of the HSCN procurement routes available is provided below. For more detailed guidance on what each procurement route will involve you can visit the HSCN customer journey pages, where we provide in depth guidance on migrating to HSCN. 

Option A - aggregated procurement (NHS Digital managed)

To support timely migration to HSCN connectivity NHS Digital will be managing a series of aggregated procurements that will combine health and social care organisations' HSCN connectivity requirements into a single procurement, based on a geographical footprint and other relevant considerations.

This provides a simple way to obtain HSCN connectivity as it won't require organisations to work together operationally or to establish shared network management arrangements; organisations simply need to provide their connectivity requirements to NHS Digital.  It will also deliver cost effective connectivity as a result of aggregating demand and will enable you to collaborate with other health and social care organisations in due course.

If you opt to join an aggregated procurement, NHS Digital will work with you to understand your requirements and feed this into the procurement process. This will ensure we go to market on your behalf to obtain a service that meets your business needs.

We plan to go to market requesting pricing for HSCN services that are equivalent to the Transition Network connectivity in place today as well as a number of other options which your input will help us to define. This will enable you to see what is available before finalising a contract for the services.

Non-NHS public sector organisations can be included in NHS Digital-led aggregated procurements as long as they are able to conform to the timetable outlined below and their HSCN connectivity requirements are straightforward. If you would like to nominate any such organisation for inclusion in an aggregated procurement please let us know.

NHS Digital is working closely with Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to establish a new HSCN National Procurement Framework (known as RM3825) which is due for delivery in autumn 2017.  Once established, NHS Digital will use this to run aggregated procurements. 

Who is this suitable for?

Customers who:

  • are not already part of a well progressed locally managed collaborative procurement initiative (see option B below) that will launch before 31 December 2017
  • don't wish to manage the procurement of N3 replacement services themselves at this point
  • feel unable to make a decision on which procurement route to take at this point - where this is the case, organisations will be automatically placed into an appropriate NHS Digital managed aggregated procurement

For a more detailed look at the NHS Digital led aggregated procurements, including timelines and guidance on whether this is the right route for you, visit the HSCN customer journey pages.

Option B - collaborative procurement (customer led)

Some organisations are collaborating with health and social care partners in the procurement of a shared network. Find out more about collaborative procurement initiatives.

Collaborative procurements require organisations to work together operationally. Specifically they need to understand their joint requirements and establish joint governance and shared network management arrangements.

Collaborations also need to have local project, procurement and legal resources in place to run their procurement to the timetable set out below. Find a checklist of arrangements and artefacts required for a collaborative procurement.

NHS Digital will provide support to collaborative network procurement initiatives and, where these make use of RM3825, we'll work in conjunction with CCS to help customers to deliver them.

Who is this suitable for?

Customers who:

  • have plans to work with health and social care organisations on shared and integrated services initiatives
  • have a good understanding of their own network requirements and those of their regional partners
  • have established relationships capable of supporting a regional shared network procurement
  • are able to establish the artifacts listed in the 'collaborative procurement checklist'

For a more detailed look at customer-led collaborative procurements, including timelines and guidance on whether this is the right route for you, visit the HSCN customer journey pages.

Option C - individual self-service (customer led)

You can manage your own procurement of HSCN connectivity without involving other organisations. This won't constrain your ability to access and share data with other health and social care organisations connected to HSCN.

NHS Digital will provide online guidance, tools and processes for customers to use but there will be little day-to-day central involvement other than help with migration capacity planning and progress reporting.

Who is this suitable for?

Customers who:

  • have no immediate plans to collaborate with other health and care organisations on a shared network initiative or don't have established relationships capable of supporting regional shared network procurement
  • have a good understanding of their own network requirements
  • are able to launch an HSCN procurement by 31 December 2017

For a more detailed look at customer-led individual self-serve procurements, including timelines and guidance on whether this is the right route for you, you can visit the HSCN customer journey pages.

Mandatory Supplemental Terms

Regardless of the chosen procurement route, each organisation must ensure that the icon Mandatory Supplemental Terms (MST) [26.5KB] are included in its contract with the supplier.

For procurements run via the CCS RM3825 dynamic purchasing system, the MST will already be incorporated in the associated contractual documentation. For procurements run outside of RM3825, organisations must include these to ensure that these key terms are understood by both customer and supplier organisations and adhered to.

By signing the Connection Agreement consumer organisations are obliged to include these terms in their supplier contracts. Suppliers are also obliged to include these terms via their commitment to adhere to the icon HSCN Obligations Framework [159.91KB] .

HSCN collaborative procurement

Across England there are a number of collaborative procurement initiatives taking place where a variety of NHS and social care organisations are coming together to procure HSCN services, often across Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) areas. Where health and care organisations, including Clinical Commissioning Groups, purchase network services together they use a Single Supplier Framework. 

Checklist for collaborative procurements

Below is the checklist of actions for which prospective collaborations need to provide evidence and the deadline for doing so. Where collaborations fail to hit these deadlines, NHS Digital will bring the organisations involved into the scope of an aggregated procurement managed by NHS Digital.

15 September 2017

  1. A fully formed Intelligent Client Function (ICF), to handle central decision making as a minimum, with appropriate governance mechanisms agreed and in place.
  2. A clearly defined operating model and evidence of commitment to it from all partners.
  3. A central or lead legal entity in whose name the procurement can be run (for OJEU style procurements).

31 October 2017

  1. Assigned procurement resources.
  2. Assigned legal resources (to draft, review and agree terms and conditions).
  3. A clear and fully agreed view of their requirements, documented in a 'scope of services' document.
  4. Agreed priority for migration - who goes when and on what timeline.

What is an Intelligent Client Function?

An Intelligent Client Function (ICF) in the context of HSCN is a capability performed by a lead organisation or group of lead organisations that:

  • assumes responsibility for determining service requirements on behalf of a group of organisations forming a joint partnership
  • identifies and secures the resources to support the procurement
  • provides overall migration coordination and management on behalf of the partner organisations
  • provides governance at all stages of the procurement and contract lifecycle
  • performs consolidated vendor and service delivery/performance management once a contract has been awarded 

Examples of customer led collaborative procurements

If you wish to join a collaborative group in your region you will need to confirm this formally before 15 September 2017. Please get in touch with your Regional Migration Manager by email at in order to confirm this.

You can find details of HSCN customer led collaborative procurements currently being progressed on the HSCN procurement groupings page.

The first groups are choosing to use an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procurement route, supported by NHS Digital, to deliver a regional Single Supplier Framework.

The remaining collaborative groups are choosing from options including running their own OJEU-based procurements or using a new Crown Commercial Service HSCN National Framework (Lot number RM3825) which is expected to be available towards the end of 2017.

HSCN Suppliers

HSCN will be delivered by multiple suppliers providing interoperable network services that adhere to an agreed set of standards. This means health and social care organisations are able to replace existing N3 connectivity services with HSCN services bought from a choice of suppliers within a competitive marketplace.

HSCN supplier compliance status

Details of suppliers that have applied for and achieved HSCN compliance to date can be found on the HSCN Suppliers page. This will be updated regularly.

If you're interested in understanding more about the supplier compliance process visit the HSCN Suppliers page.

Regional Migration Manager contacts

If you would like to discuss HSCN procurement and migration further please email to get in contact with your Regional Migration Managers (RMM).

Region/SectorRMM name
Yorkshire and the HumberSteve Barnes
North EastRichard Smith
West Midlands and North WestMike Hampson
Josephine Smith
East of England and East MidlandsLinda Crowe
London areaRoy Ullah
South West and South CoastJim Busby

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