All NHSmail inboxes are being doubled in size as part of a refresh programme by NHS England.

NHS England’s chief technology officer Alex Abbott spoke at EHI Live 2013 today and gave updates on various national infrastructure projects such as NHSmail, N3 and the Spine.

He said the commissioning board has been rolling out a programme to double the mailbox size of all NHSmail accounts over the past three to four months and it is almost complete.

There are 650,000 active users of NHSmail. Feedback regarding what the new service should provide has led NHS England to increase mailbox sizes before NHSmail2 is procured, said Abbott.

The current mail contract with Cable and Wireless has been extended to June 2014, which will be followed by a two-year transition to NHSmail2.

This will be procured as a secure email lot on the Public Service Network framework and a new contract is expected to be awarded in late summer 2014.

"One of the aims for the replacement service is to make it easier and provide better support for integration to non-NHS sites; small provider organisations in public health and social care," Abbott said.

"By January 2015 we want to be in the position where we get a contract lot selected and procured on behalf of the NHS and we expect the transition to take six-months between January and August 2015."

Abbott also updated the audience at the NEC in Birmingham about the replacement for N3.

The current contract is due to end in March 2014 and NHS England is in the midst of negotiating an extension while it designs the replacement, called PSN for Health.

"That will deliver a service equivalent to N3, but aligned to PSN standards," he explained.

The plan is to begin the transition to the replacement service in the first half of 2016, working with the PSN team.Abbott also said the current Spine contract with BT has been extended until 2014.

He said the first version of Spine2, being built by Leeds firm BJSS using open source components, is entering the formal integration testing phase.

It will go-live in summer 2014. This will include core services : the personal demographics service; the summary care record; and the transaction messaging service.

The identity access management part of the service will go live in autumn next year.