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University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

This short case study demonstrates how University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust have successfully migrated to better, faster and cheaper data network connectivity by replacing their legacy N3 services with new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) services, and the benefits they are experiencing as a result. 

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust is the largest hospital in the South West peninsula, providing the region with comprehensive secondary and tertiary healthcare services. Beyond its provision of secondary services to 450,000 people from Plymouth and the surrounding area, it’s also a major trauma centre and provides specialist services to over 2m people.

Its staff rely on data network connectivity to access patient records and information, as well as clinical applications that run over the network. It is vital that connectivity is highly reliable and resilient to make sure its clinicians are informed and well-equipped to treat patients.

Key benefits

By migrating to HSCN, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust have been able to achieve:

  • increased network capacity and resilience; 10x more bandwidth for 20% less than N3
  • improved patient administration (PAS), image sharing (PACs) and radiology system (CRIS) performance
  • more staff able to access clinical systems reliably and flexibly
  • increased adoption of video services
  • increased ability to adopt digital and cloud-hosted services (such as telemedicine)
  • greater regional collaboration

“N3 turned out, unfortunately, to be quite restrictive – but HSCN is a true enabler of NHS digital transformation.”

Rob Harder
IM&T Chief Technology Officer University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

The journey to HSCN

With an initial capital outlay of £8k and the allocation of internal project management and technical resources equivalent to 0.1FTE over a 6 month period, Plymouth have been able to move from legacy N3 connectivity costing £31k per annum to new HSCN connectivity, providing ten times more bandwidth, costing £23k per annum.

August 2017,requirements gathering - Plymouth engaged with other Trusts, CCGs and hospices within the region to form the Devon Collaborative.


October 2017, procurement launched - the Devon Collaborative launched a procurement for an HSCN solution capable of providing highly reliable and resilient connectivity.


December 2017,contract awarded - eight connectivity suppliers competed for the Devon Collaborative with MLL Telecom being awarded the contract.


March 2018, migrations begin - UHP NHS Trust and partners began migrating to new HSCN services. The experience proved to be simple, straightforward and almost entirely seamless.

The benefits

CRIS (Clinical Radiology Information System)

CRIS access issues have reduced by 60% since migration to HSCN. What was almost a daily occurrence affecting radiologists and radiographers is now only an occasional issue.

iPM (patient administration system)

Vastly reduced number of issues affecting access to a system impacting users responsible for admitting, transferring and discharging patients.

PACS image sharing

PACS images are regularly transferred between hospitals along with the patients. Image sharing has improved, pre-HSCN there were ~10 image transfer issues per month either failing, getting stuck or being very slow. This has now reduced to a couple each month.


Additional bandwidth has enabled increased access to Docman software from 11 practices to 232 practices, delivering up to 30,000 outpatient letters electronically to the surgeries each month. This has led to significant savings in printing and postage costs as well as staff time, improved information governance, patient safety and GP satisfaction; all contributing to more effectively supporting patient pathways.

Multi-disciplinary team (MDT) video conferencing

Derriford is the hub of the SW Peninsula Cardiac, Oncology and Renal Transplant services and hosts hundreds of MDT meetings each month. HSCN has enabled higher quality and more frequent video conferencing meetings.

“Our IT team is now much better placed to help the organisation with digital transformation and improve services for our patients”

Rob Harder
IM&T Chief Technology Officer University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust

The future

Future capacity to access more cloud hosted services such as:

  • hybrid mail services for sharing letters with patients is expected to deliver significant savings
  • telemedicine functionality to enable remote consultations with long term condition patients
  • greater use of cloud-based services like TPP SystmOne, NHSmail add-ons such as Office 365 and Skype, and shared hosting of IT systems across organisations
Last edited: 28 May 2019 9:28 am