Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has signed a £5.7 million contract with Updata Infrastructure to deliver wide-area connectivity across 400 NHS sites.

The five-year contract will see Updata Infrastructure, which is owned by professional services firm Capita, move EPUT from the legacy N3 Network to the new, multi-vendor Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), with implementation to start before Christmas.

Over the next 12 months, Updata will implement a wide area network (WAN) that will enable high-bandwidth connectivity to more than 400 hospitals, NHS clinics and GP surgeries in the Essex region.

These sites will then be able to deploy additional connectivity services – such NHS Wi-Fi, Secure Remote Access and Voice –facilitated by HSCN.

Parent company Capita labelled the contract “the largest HSCN contract to date”.

Mark Madden, executive chief finance and resources officer at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We need a reliable and robust connectivity solution to deliver enhanced connectivity. We are confident that this implementation will enhance the user-experience for our employees and enable greater interaction and sharing of resources between our sites in the Essex region.”

What is HSCN?

The Health and Social Care Network is the designated replacement for the 15-year-old NHS National Network (N3) infrastructure delivered by British incumbent BT, which is due to be switched off in August 2020.

There are some 1,200 customers on the N3 network. On top of that, there are different contracting authorities who have 14,000 different connections and linking to 51,000 different organisations.

Connectivity for HSCN will be delivered by a variety of suppliers in an effort to promote competition, allowing health and care organisations to select vendors based on their individual needs. This means suppliers can offer their own connectivity products via HSCN, such as software-as-a-service and cyber security solutions.

Migrations to HSCN began in 2017, with BT’s N3 contract having expired in March the same year.