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Two national NHS services move to the cloud

Two national NHS services move to the cloud

The NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) and the NHS 111 Directory of Services (DoS) have completed their migration to the cloud, saving public money while making the services more secure and efficient1.

e-RS is a national electronic booking service that handles around 18m referrals every year.  It gives patients a choice of place, date and time for first hospital or clinic appointments that they can book themselves, as well as providing the ability to cancel or change those appointments2.

The DoS is a critical national 24/7 service which underpins urgent and emergency care across the country by connecting patients with the right services to meet their needs3.

As part of the Government’s ‘Cloud First’ policy, many NHS systems are moving to the cloud, with both e-RS and DoS the first major NHS systems to complete migration, using AWS Cloud Computing Services.

Neil Bennett, Director of Services at NHS Digital, said: “There are a wealth of benefits that come from moving large systems like e-RS and DoS to the cloud.  Costs are lowered, reducing pressure on the public purse, there is better security and reliability, as well as greater flexibility, performance, scalability and availability, to name a few.

“This was a tremendous collaborative effort across many different teams here and with external partners, to migrate such large systems with a minimum of disruption to users, in a reasonably short timescale.”

Ben Tongue, Sustainability Manager at NHS Digital, said:  “Cloud migration is a key element of our sustainability strategy at NHS Digital, because it offers real benefits in terms of energy saving.  Large cloud operators like AWS provide significant energy and carbon savings against enterprise and legacy systems. 

“We are working with AWS to achieve full transparency on the energy use and carbon impact of the contract, so that we can continue to focus on ensuring that our storage systems are as energy efficient as possible, reducing carbon emissions and minimising environmental impact.”


Notes to editors

  1. The e-RS service has been enabled for direct internet access but will not be fully available for public internet access until NHS Identity assumes responsibility for user authentication in spring 2020.  For more information on NHS Identity, see our pages.
  2. GP practices make around 70,000 referrals for patients every working day to all acute trusts via e-RS. The system is used in 1,100 NHS (and independent sector) provider organisations, which together have more than 61,000 clinical services on the system and there are around 120,000 active professional users of the system.
  3. The DoS supports clinicians, call handlers, commissioners and patients by providing information about appropriate alternative services and clinicians, across multiple care settings. This reduces the burden on urgent and emergency care and provides care as close to a patient's home as possible. The DoS handles over 16 million searches per year.

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.  Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

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Last edited: 24 January 2020 3:45 pm