NHS strikes landmark IT deal with Microsoft

The major agreement will see Microsoft 365 and Windows 10 ported to millions of machines across the health service

More than a million staff members across the NHS will have access to the Microsoft 365 suite of apps and services as part of a landmark agreement struck between NHS Digital, NHSX and Microsoft.

The productivity and collaboration suite, which includes Microsoft Teams, will be deployed to 1.2 million NHS staff in Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and health Informatics Services in an effort to create a more joined-up NHS.

GPs, consultants, nurses, therapists, paramedics, and support staff will have access to services within Microsoft 365 as part of the agreement, allowing them to take advantage of the cloud-based services. 

“Adopting the most up to date digital tools and operating systems are crucial for a modern day NHS - allowing staff to work as efficiently as possible which will deliver even better care for patients,” said the health secretary Matt Hancock.

“We have seen incredible, innovative uses of technology throughout the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and this new deal with Microsoft will pave the way for that to continue by ensuring we get the basics right.”

Platforms such as Microsoft Teams will allow for quicker and more efficient communication, while the interoperability across the health service with Office 365 apps and Outlook will allow for a much sharing of critical files and documents. 

“This deal with Microsoft represents a saving of hundreds of millions of pounds. This is a direct result of negotiations led jointly by NHSX and NHS Digital,” added NHSX CEO Matthew Gould. “It means staff will have access to the best possible collaboration and productivity tools, and that our cyber defences are as strong as possible.” 

The cost of the agreement hasn’t been disclosed, although the NHS insists the deal will be cost-saving for both individual organisations and the NHS as a whole, as well as improving productivity and boosting collaboration. This isn’t to mention the cyber security benefits, given the rising nature of the threat that the health service faces.

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The latest agreement builds on the deal struck in April 2018 that allowed NHS organisations to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge. Legacy operating systems, such as Windows XP and Windows 7, were widely in-use at the time of the agreement.

The rollout of Microsoft 365 to NHS organisations will also ensure IT systems that haven’t yet been upgraded to Windows 10 will be, in addition to being afforded Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security platform.

“This agreement ensures NHS organisations across England have access to modern productivity tools and solutions necessary to delivering better patient outcomes now and in the future,” said Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose.

“The timing of the agreement coincides with the licence renewal period of a number of NHS organisations in England. It also ensures that those NHS organisations that have already made their own arrangements with Microsoft benefit from the deal and the significant cost savings on offer.”

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