NHS organisations are set to gain access to Microsoft 365 tools in a landmark deal with the technology company expected to save the health service hundreds of millions of pounds.
The deal, struck between NHSX, NHS Digital and Microsoft, aims to improve productivity, enhance collaboration and strengthen cyber security across healthcare services.
Microsoft 365 will be deployed to about 1.2 million staff across NHS organisations including trusts; clinical commissioning groups; and health informatics services.
Organisations will be able to access savings through their existing agreements, receiving additional discounts on the products included in the deal, according to NHS Digital. Savings will come from the terms of licensing and productivity gains.
It will facilitate more effective communication and better access to information and services, reducing the administrative burden on staff and freeing up more time to focus on patients.
GPs, consultants, nurses, therapists, paramedics and support staff will have access to services within Microsoft 365, ensuring they are able to use tools such as Microsoft Teams, which will enable staff to collaborate more effectively through instant messaging, audio and video calls.
Upon announcing the deal health secretary Matt Hancock said there had been some “incredible, innovative” uses of technology during the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the deal would “pave the way for that to continue by ensuring we get the basics right”.
Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “This deal will allow the NHS to derive productivity and collaboration benefits from the use of numerous Microsoft products and will strengthen cyber security across the system.”
Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, added: “This deal with Microsoft represents a saving of hundreds of millions of pounds. This is a direct result of negotiations led jointly by NHSX and NHS Digital.
“It means staff will have access to the best possible collaboration and productivity tools, and that our cyber defences are as strong as possible.”
The deal builds on an agreement with the company from April 2018 that enabled NHS organisations to use Windows 10 to strengthen their defences against cyber attacks following the WannaCry attack.
Organisations have until October 2021 to full implement all elements of Microsoft 365. The deal will run for a minimum of 3 years, to April 2023.
Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is proud to support the NHS any way we can, especially in these challenging times. Since Covid-19, the NHS has rapidly accelerated its adoption of digital tools to enable clinicians and support staff to perform their life-saving work more effectively.
“This agreement ensures NHS organisations across England have access to modern productivity tools and solutions necessary to delivering better patient outcomes now and in the future.”
Microsoft Teams has proven a vital tool to share information securely and support new ways of working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The software was rolled-out to all users of NHSmail in England and Scotland between 16-20 March this year to help NHS teams better communicate and collaborate around their responses to Covid-19
By April use of the software to support remote working across the NHS had soared by more than 800%.
Between 22-28 March there were around 28,148 unique users per day, starting with 4,812 on 22 March and peaking at 44,885 on 27 March, an increase of 832%.