The Cabinet Office has been asked to agree an extension to the current NHSmail contract to allow more time for a replacement to be procured.
In an interview with eHealth Insider, Alex Abbott, the chief technology officer of the NHS Commissioning Board, said it was looking for an extension to the current contract, which runs out in June.
He also indicated the board is now “leaning” towards giving the contract to a single supplier, instead of using multiple suppliers, as deputy government chief information officer Liam Maxwell indicated it might at EHI Live 2012.
“Having a range of suppliers was something that we looked at, but now we think that any benefits that we would gain might be outweighed by the extra difficulty of the integration involved,” he said. “We are leaning towards working with a single supplier.”
NHSmail was one of the first, national services to be delivered after the launch of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, promising a national directory service and an email address for life.
It's provider, Cable and Wireless, moved it off the Mirapoint platform and onto the Microsoft Exchange 2007 platform in 2009, and since then sign-ups have grown steadily if slowly.
Abbott said NHSmail now has 800,000 registered users, of which 500,000 use it regularly, with 15,000 new users coming on board each month.
He said around 150 organisations use it as their primary email service, and another 300 use it to some extent.
In the reprocurement, he said he would be looking to overcome some of the persistent complaints about the service – such as the small size of its mail boxes – and to make it a compelling offer for NHS organisations.
“If we had completely interoperable systems, then we might not need it,” Abbot said. “But as it is NHSmail still underpins the NHS information strategy, because it is the only secure method for transferring clinical data electronically.
“What we want to do is make it more able to meet the needs of the user community by listening to them and taking their views into account, so there is a better case for using NHSmail than for not using it.”
Abbott said the board is looking at a cloud-based version of NHSmail to reduce costs, and at working with other government departments.
He also said it is looking to procure a “commodity” service, with extras – such as larger mailboxes and service enhancements – that organisations could take if they wanted, at an additional cost.
Other ideas that have been floated, including a Dropbox-style store for large files and attachements, are still being considered.
The extension to the current contract is likely to be for 12 months with three month break points.
Abbot said he hoped to be in a position to buy-through the government G-Cloud framework by this summer, so a timeline for procurement can be framed up this autumn, and a new service put in place next year.
© 2013 EHealth Media.
Does anyone actually use it for Clinical purposes ?JohnGrant4est 112 weeks ago
"But as it is, NHSmail still underpins the NHS information strategy, because it is the only secure method for transferring clinical data electronically."
Secure, perhaps, but the practicalities of having a threaded message exchange about an episode of clinical care centred on a particular patient are such that email will never be the answer. Oops, I just accidentally forwarded your email about Miss X and her Mental Health problems to someone's Hotmail account.
Having an NHS email account for business process and admin is great though. Such a shame they blocked IMAP from outside N3 though - anyone know if this ridiculous limitation is being re-negotiated for the next incarnation ?
Devil in detailinterop lurker 114 weeks ago
Easy to understand" cartoon" of proposed new service spec would be helpful Slight opaqueness about costs.... various threads about SMS to be charged..is this true ? whilst for life , still thorny issue of data ownership? If you clear your desk in an FT ... data stays "on the desk"...
Date of service start?KeepItSimple 115 weeks ago
You say NHSmail was one of the first NPfIT implementations. I think that's wrong.
I can't be absolutely sure but I'm pretty confident NHSmail was initiated by the NHSIA (NHS Information Authority for youngsters). I think NHSmail started in October 2002, with the contract awarded to EDS. IT21C was published in June 2002 and NPfIT also started in October 2002 but didn't design or award this contract.
Happy to be contradicted if someone knows better.
It predates NHS IANHS Oldie 115 weeks ago
Hi showing my age here but I think in some guise or other NHS mail predates NHSIA. From my memory it was once ran by RACAL (called healthlink in those days then got an upgrade to Healthlink+). One of the first national tenders to take place when NHSnet was conceived was a replacement for RACAL Healthlink - BT/Syntegra won this known as the NHS MHS (message handling service) and was delivered by regional Telecom branches (ie NorthWest Telecom branch which became NW IA) - not sure who RACAL contracted with (ie who came before Telecoms Branch) there's probably an older person than me who may know this. The dates for this are at least 1995/96 and I remember well being on the syntegra stand at Harrogate finding out about it approx then if not before.
Yes, butLyn from Digital Health 115 weeks ago
I said, rather carefully, it was one of the first things to be delivered after NPfIT started, not that it was an NPfIT system. The idea of an email system for the NHS had even deeper roots... certainly in Information for Health... quite possibly strategies before that!
The first of many, will C&B be next?Rob Dyke 115 weeks ago
As this year there are several NPfIT contracts limping into the final months of the extensions to the extensions I expect that we'll see a few more rolling-extensions begged of the Cabinet Office by the Commissioning Board.
C&B different kettle of fishin arduis fidelis 114 weeks ago
Rob I think you'll find that C&B is actually going through reprocurement this year as opposed to an extension on an extension. Bear in mind C&B has been flagged (quite rightly IMHO) as being at the core of the "paperless referrals by 2015" vision, plus logic dictates the best way for primary care to assist secondary care acheive the speculative "paperless NHS by 2018" is if referral documents entering the secondary care system are sent electronically.
Proactive Planninggeorge385 115 weeks ago
....any trusts out there whose applications might be using NHS.net email for things like discharge summaries and community midwives handover documents need to start thinking about this.....now.