NHS Wales has signed a corporate licensing enterprise agreement with Microsoft covering the firm’s latest desktop and mobile computing software. The three year deal is estimated to provide savings of £6.1 million compared to trusts locally negotiating software licensing deals.

The deal follows the £500m three year corporate licensing deal Microsoft signed with the English NHS in November 2004 covering 900,000 users.

Under the Welsh agreement the latest Microsoft operating and software licences will be provided for 35,000 computer desktops throughout NHS Wales, covering staff across the health service.  The arrangement will also see Microsoft providing strategic support and training to staff.

The deal is being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and managed by Informing Healthcare, which is leading the development of new methods, tools and information technologies to improve health services in Wales. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons said: “This is excellent news for NHS Wales – and for patient care. The cost-saving deal we have agreed with Microsoft means that we can continue to ensure that money is focused where it is needed – on providing world class services for patients”

Informing Healthcare Director Gwyn Thomas said: “This is an outstanding deal for the NHS in Wales. The time and cost savings achieved from this deal will mean more resources can be steered directly to meet the needs of patients. I’m delighted we’ve been able to conclude these negotiations. It’s good news for patients, good for healthcare workers, and good for the NHS in Wales.”

Mike Lugg, director of IM&T at North East Wales Trust said: “This deal will bring significant benefits to patients and the health workforce. By implementing a standard version of desktop technologies we will ensure a consistent approach to improving the performance of NHS Wales.”

Carl Mustad, head of IT in Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust said: “This deal will ensure that all NHS organisations keep software and licences relevant and up-to-date and that staff across the NHS are using the same version of the software.”

Other benefits for healthcare workers include training vouchers for skills in the latest IT products, together with a ‘home use’ programme that will enable staff with existing work-based licences to purchase a reduced-cost licence of the latest Office software for personal use at home.

All desktop software provided will have access to Microsoft’s Welsh Language Pack, an add-on developed by Microsoft in conjunction with the Welsh Language Board, which enables computer users to adapt their software to display many commonly used features in Welsh.

Andy Matson, Microsoft’s head of health said: “This is a great deal which will put NHS Wales in good stead for achieving on its ambitious modernisation agenda. Microsoft will work closely with NHS Wales to provide healthcare staff across the country with access, training and strategic support to use the most advanced Microsoft software available, and in their own language.”

The enterprise agreement covers licences for Windows XP operating system and Office Professional Enterprise Edition (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and Infopath) together with Windows, Exchange. It also includes provisions to enable organisations to upgrade and keep current the latest versions of all the enterprise products.