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HSCN consumer handbook: consumer overview

This page provides a summary of the background of HSCN, its central components and design for consumers.

Consumer overview

The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) is a new data network for health and care organisations. It succeeds the N3 network, now called the Transition Network (TN). HSCN provides the underlying network arrangements to help integrate and transform health and social care services by enabling them to access and share information more reliably, flexibly and efficiently.

Health and care providers are able to obtain network connectivity from multiple suppliers in a competitive market place, and in collaboration with other health and social care organisations.

The HSCN is an important transitional stage in achieving the vision of making digital health and social care services widely available over the internet. In providing both public and private connectivity over one connection it will:

  • help organisations and services move to internet and cloud-based architecture
  • provide highly effective access to critical digital services that are not currently available over internet, upon which health and care relies
  • help organisations protect themselves against network related cyber-security threats

HSCN is a standards-based network, meaning you can choose from multiple compliant suppliers, known as HSCN Consumer Network Service Providers (CN-SPs), to provide your network services. A list of CN-SPs is available at on the HSCN supplier webpage.

Unlike N3, there is no standard catalogue for HSCN connectivity services. NHS Digital have introduced the central components required to manage the safe and reliable operation of the multi-supplier environment. NHS Digital will contract these services to providers who have the tools and expertise to ensure the security and stability of HSCN. Examples of these central services are:

  • HSCN Peering Exchange Network (PN), an interconnect that enables communication between all CNSPs and their consumers
  • NHS Secure Boundary Service, provides a perimeter security solution offering protection against security threats. The solution uses next generation firewall (NGFW) and web application firewall (WAF) protection to protect internet traffic from digital and cloud-based threats.
  • Internet Protocol Address Management (IPAM), a service used by the NHS Digital IPAM team to manage and maintain the quality of IP and consumer data held by NHS Digital.
  • Network Analytics Service (NAS), a network security management tool which performs analysis on data moving across HSCN in near real-time to identify any malicious activity - NAS is managed and maintained by NHS Digital

For further information on these central services please see HSCN supplier information.

Essentially, HSCN creates a single private network accessible by health and social care providers and their partners. All health and social care organisations in England are within scope of the HSCN solution, supporting an integrated health and care service.

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Last edited: 1 March 2021 9:40 am