The NHS could save hundreds of millions of pounds thanks to a deal between NHSX, NHS Digital and Microsoft, which enables members of staff to access Microsoft 365 digital tools.
The landmark deal is intended to improve collaboration across the healthcare service, while also boosting cybersecurity protection.
NHS Microsoft deal
Microsoft 365, including a variety of Microsoft applications, will be available to up to 1.2 million members of staff across NHS trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups and health informatics services, including GPs, consultants, nurses, therapists, paramedics and support staff.
This will ensure that staff have access to the “information, applications and services” that they need, reducing administrative burden and make communication more efficient through better access to digital tools.
The deal comes during the licence renewal period for a number of NHS organisations in England. NHS organisations that have existing deals with Microsoft through additional discounts on Microsoft products.
This builds on a deal between Microsoft and the NHS signed in 2018 to roll out Windows 10 in order to be better prepared for cyberattacks.
All NHS staff have also been able to use Microsoft Teams for free during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Digital tools “crucial for a modern day NHS”
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said:
“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.
“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.”
Since the notorious Wannacry ransomware cyberattack hit the NHS in 2017, reportedly costing £92m, NHS IT infrastructure has at times been criticised for being outdated, with 2,300 Windows XP computers still being used in the NHS in July last year.
However, NHSX was established in early 2019, designed to “drive the digital transformation of care”. In Janaury 2020, £40m was also designated to updating the NHS login systems.
Sarah Wilkinson, CEO at NHS Digital, said:
“I’m delighted that we have been able to conclude these negotiations with Microsoft successfully. This deal will allow the NHS to derive productivity and collaboration benefits from the use of numerous Microsoft products and will strengthen cybersecurity across the system. I would also like to thank Microsoft for allowing NHS Digital to deploy numerous licences at no cost in recent months in response to the pandemic.
“They have been a superb partner throughout this crisis and we look forward to extending this partnership in the years ahead”.