Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has signed a deal with Quicksilva to enable it to get direct access to the NHS data Spine and its services.

Quicksilva will provide the trust with its Compliance-in-a-Box consultancy service, Spine Gateway managed service and Spine-in-a-Box test harness. These will enable it to complete the NHS Connecting for Health assurance process and set up direct connections between its systems and the Personal Demographics Service.

Andy Laverick, director of ICT at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, said this would improve its data quality and help it to prepare for the arrival of Choose and Book and other national programmes.

“We are wary of data quality in this trust,” he explained to E-Health Insider. “We recently went through a merger with Good Hope Hospital, which meant that two PAS systems became a single PAS.

“That meant we had duplicated records, which is a big quality issue. So we decided that we needed to increase the quality of data in our systems. We also wanted to improve use of the NHS Number, particularly with Choose and Book coming along. The relationship with Quicksilva will allow us to do that.

“We will have direct access to the Spine, so we will be able to go direct to the Personal Demographics Service. If there is an NHS Number available for a patient, it will be there. If the Summary Care Record takes off, we will also be able to populate that.”

The foundation trust owns its patient administration system, which it has been developing for a decade. David Hextell, its head of systems development, said it reviewed an offer from the National Programme for IT in the NHS in 2007 and decided not to take it.

However, he said the trust was still committed to systems integration, complying with standards and following best practice. “We want to be ready for integration in the future,” he said. “The idea of the Spine is one that we buy into and we want to get on top of. If we register a patient, we want to be able to query the Spine and get the information we need from there.”

Laverick also argued the deal would help to prepare the trust for potential changes in the way that the national programme operates, such as giving trusts more freedom to choose their own IT systems, as advocated by the Commons Public Accounts committee. “If trusts can buy their own systems, then integration through the Spine will be critical,” he said.

Quicksilva Software Solutions provides integration services to both the public and private sectors but has focused on the healthcare market and areas of the national programme, including connections to the Spine and supporting Choose and Book and other national programmes.

Managing director Gaynor Hart said: “With much of the focus for NHS Connecting for Health now switching to ongoing operations, we expect Heart of England to be the first of many healthcare organisations looking to cost-effectively integrate their existing systems with the Spine.”