An agreement between NHSX, NHS Digital and tech giant Microsoft has been described as ‘game-changing’ by a leading technology expert.
Analysts predict the deal will save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds and enable all eligible organisations in England to access Microsoft 365 digital tools.
As part of the deal, Microsoft 365 will be deployed to as many as 1.2 million staff across NHS organisations, including Trusts, CCGs, and health Informatics Services.
Marc Schmid is the founder of Lancashire-based Redmoor Health, which was recently appointed as a Microsoft co-seller partner and is now supporting Microsoft with the deployment of Teams across front line health and care services.
He said the agreement will boost productivity and collaboration and increase cyber security across the healthcare industry.
“It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of this announcement,” he said.
“COVID-19 has changed healthcare forever and the way technology is perceived. At the start of the pandemic Microsoft made their Microsoft Teams software available free-of-charge to NHS staff and it’s been transformational.
“COVID-19 forced doctors and the NHS to work remotely and placed unprecedented pressure on the healthcare system but technology allowed doctors, nurses and support staff across the NHS to collaborate and continue their vital work.
“The partnership between NHSX, NHS Digital and Microsoft will create a truly joined-up NHS.”
The deal ensures that GPs, consultants, nurses, therapists, paramedics and support staff will be able to collaborate more effectively through instant messaging, audio and video calls.
As part of the agreement Microsoft 365 will be deployed to NHS organisations including Trusts, CCGs, and health Informatics Services. Announcing the deal, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State, 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.”
Matthew Gould, CEO at NHSX, said: “This deal ensures that the NHS will get the best possible value for taxpayers, and is good news for our staff and patients. This deal with Microsoft represents a saving of hundreds of millions of pounds.”
Sarah Wilkinson, CEO at NHS Digital, said: “This deal will allow the NHS to derive productivity and collaboration benefits from the use of numerous Microsoft products and will strengthen cyber security 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.”
Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is proud to support the NHS any way we can, especially in these challenging times. Since COVID-19, the NHS has rapidly accelerated its adoption of digital tools to enable clinicians and support staff to perform their life-saving work more effectively.
“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.”
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.