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NHS Digital celebrates five years of Spine II as the backbone of the national health service

This week NHS Spine marks five years since it was brought in house by NHS Digital and run as an open source service for the NHS by the NHS – saving the service £150m in the process.

The Spine, which supports the IT infrastructure for health and social care in England, connects clinicians and patients to essential national healthcare services, including the Electronic Prescription Service, Summary Care Record and the e-Referrals Service.

It now supports up to 47 million transactions per day, which is four times the monthly average for the entire UK credit and debit card system.

It is used by 500,000 healthcare professionals daily and it supports 28,000 IT healthcare systems across 21,000 organisations.

A Summary Care Record, held on Spine, is accessed every four seconds. Each record including vital patient information needed in medical emergencies such as medicines and allergy advice.

It also holds 90 million demographic records, which stretch from cradle to grave and hold information including address, GP and preferred language information. This is more than the estimated 73 million personal current bank accounts held in the UK1.

The Electronic Prescription Service held on Spine supports two million electronic prescriptions sent per day and Spine messaging, which is essentially a transport mechanism supports 17 million files per month.

Rob Shaw, Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Digital said: “The NHS Spine II has been a phenomenal achievement by everyone involved over the past five years. From the team that designed and built it after bringing it in-house to the staff that keep it running and performing to maximum capacity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Spine II has saved the NHS millions of pounds over the last five years while offering a service that can be trusted and relied upon at all times.

“The Spine has also allowed for greater information sharing across the NHS that improves the wellbeing of thousands of vulnerable children and young people.

"The Child Protection – Information Sharing system triggers around 10,000 safeguarding alerts every month through the Spine, covering more than 183,000 looked after and protected children in England, while the Female Genital Mutilation – Information Sharing system acts as a trigger to protect young women at risk of this barbaric practice.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Source: Financial Conduction Authority

NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system.  Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend.  During the 2018/19 financial year, NHS Digital published 265 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

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