14 November 2017
An NHS technology team has been given a national award for developing a new product which successfully migrated two billion records, can be updated weekly rather than annually, processes data faster and operates at 20 per cent of the cost of the old system.
NHS Digital's Digital Delivery Centre were named as Best Overall DevOps Project - Public Sector, in the DevOps Industry Awards 2017 for the successful replacement of The Secondary Uses Service (SUS) with SUS+. The system processes and information about care in NHS hospitals, and is used to determine what the hospital needs to be paid for its services.
The old system, SUS, was outsourced and was difficult to change and expensive to run. The team worked together with small scale external suppliers to deliver SUS+ and successfully migrated ten years of data to the new, faster, more cost effective and more secure replacement.
SUS+ prices £30 billion of hospital activity per year, and holds and processes around 1.5 petabytes of data, equivalent to 350,000 DVDs or 10 billion photos.
Andrew Meyer, Director of the Digital Delivery Centre at NHS Digital explains, "SUS may have been slow and expensive, but it was also crucial to the smooth running of the NHS. In deciding to replace it with a new system, we always knew that failure wasn't an option.
"The whole team were inspired to work together to create something that has a lasting value for the NHS and which can manage data in a way which is safer, faster and more reliable.
"We worked as one team, but the team wasn't just made up of NHS Digital staff. Where we needed specialist expertise we worked with the best small businesses, who could offer us flexibility, commitment and world class skills. Once we got those people in, we didn't treat them as outside support, but made them an integral part of our team.
"We initially brought SUS in-house in 2015, but it was a 'lift and shift' of the old system. This gave us the opportunity to ensure our team understood the old system fully before developing its replacement, SUS+.
"It's no easy task bringing the management of such a huge system in-house, but the new service costs 80% less to run than its predecessor, and enables us to make changes and improvements weekly, rather than annually and, most importantly, can process data for NHS staff 24 hours earlier than before.
"The team worked incredibly hard and were totally committed to the project. This award is a credit and testament to their success."
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