NHS Case Study

There are few organisations throughout the world, if any, that inspire the same emotional pull as the National Health Service (NHS). Almost every person living in Britain today has used the NHS at some point in their lives, or will use it at some point.

With 1.7 million employees, the NHS is the fifth largest employer in the world. Roughly one in forty people in the UK work for the NHS. Many more than that knows, or is related to, somebody who works for the NHS.

The way that the NHS is funded, by the UK public, is unique and cherished, but brings with it great financial responsiblility. Every penny counts, and every penny saved could ultimately save lives.

The NHS are not only great consumers of technology, but given budget constraints, are also great innovators, always looking to improve their digital landscape.

We worked with the NHS over a number of years to help them realise real benefits from their SharePoint estate. One particular occasion saw a nervous Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) move into the cloud.

The Challenge

 

Beyond hospitals and GP surgeries, the NHS is structured in a complicated way. Each area of the country is supported by a Clinical Commissioning Group, or CCG. It’s this CCG that has the unenviable task of taking a budget and deciding how much of that budget to assign to different services. This includes services as wide ranging as physiotherapy through to IVF.

Figuring out how to spend that budget requires a lot of people data, and a lot of specialised staff. Due to this, and the number of CCGs in the UK, corporate support, such as accounting, human resources, recruitment, IT and business intelligence is handled by a Commissioning Support Unit, or CSU.

Midlands and Lancashire CSU (MLCSU) are one of the largest CSUs in England, supporting 50 CCGs from Morecambe in the far north west, down to Kidderminster in the south Midlands. In the last few years, providing IT support to the CCGs was proving tricky. Each had their own IT make up. Each had their own challenges. Each had their own way of managing documents.

A six strong SharePoint team was tasked with managing not only MLCSU’s SharePoint farm, but those of various CCGs. Then came the snowball effect. One CCG signed up to Office 365. Then another. Then many, many more.

The Solution

 

As part of the SharePoint team, we first set about understanding the IT estate, and then the organisation. It wasn’t easy as MLCSU itself was the result of a recent merger between two medium-sized CSUs. They were also in the process of bidding for packages of work for their existing CCGs and CCGs they were not yet working with. The government had also recently announced that private companies, such as Virgin, could also bid for work. This was an organisation in a period of volatile change.

Understanding the way the CCGs worked, and what they wanted and needed from their SharePoint solutions proved trickier still. At the time, SharePoint Online was essentially SharePoint 2013 in the cloud, so work was to be done to help the CCGs and their staff understand the benefits a move would bring.

The Midlands team worked closely with a number of CCGs, running adoption workshops that looked at where they were, what they ideally wanted from a document management system or intranet, and what they would need to do to get there.

We analysed their content, to ensure safe transition to the cloud. We found problems, custom SharePoint webparts and hardcoded VBA links in macros and worked with the CCG to find solutions. We also planned migrations around project commitments and to minimise disruption.

Along the way we also found opportunities for huge savings. We are experts at process mapping and during the course of this were able to suggest and develop several workflows that became ‘digital assistants’ to a number of CCGs, automating repetitive tasks that would otherwise have needed human intervention.

Finally, we like always like to leave organisations as self-sufficient as possible with our solutions. We try, where we can, to teach staff as we go along, reducing the need for expensive on-going support contracts. So, the CCGs were trained in how to create and deploy SharePoint sites, and the CSU were left with the expertise required to repeat the migration process over and again.

 

NHS by numbers

 

  • Largest employer in England with 1.2 million employees.
  • Also employs 500,000 staff outside of England making it the fifth largest employer in the world (McDonald’s is fourth with 1.9 million employees).
  • Has an annual budget of £145 billion.
  • This equates to 29.7% of all government spending, and is equal to £1,994 per person.
  • 12.5% of employees are from overseas, including 18,000 from India and 15,000 from the Phillipines
  • Treats 89 million patients every year. The total UK population is 65 million.
  • The NHS perform over 2,500 different types of operations.
  • In England, there are roughly 16.5 million hospital admissions each year.
  • Those patients are treated by 420,000 nurses.
  • There are 340,000,000 GP consultations each year spread across over 9,000 practices.

Not just SharePoint

 

  • A PMO application with intelligent feeds and automated workflows for new projects.
  • An annual leave tool that was fully self service, including leave calculations.
  • Use cases of Planner for meetings within weeks of Planner’s release.
  • Supported a roll out of Skype for Business within the CSU.
  • Supported NHS England’s migration of NHS Mail into Exchange Online.

The Impact

 

Midlands and Lancashire CSU are now fully transitioned into Office 365 and SharePoint Online. They now have a fine tuned migration process to move over CCGs into the cloud, whether that’s from existing SharePoint instances or coming from classic Windows storage.

Many of the applications and workflows we developed while working with MLCSU are still in use today, but the organisation have been emboldened to transfer some of their SharePoint workflows into Flow, and are starting to experiment with PowerApps.

Now, years into their Office 365 journey, MLCSU will really start to see the ROI that Microsoft predict after such a period. These savings will run into the millions over the next decade, enabling NHS England, the CSU and CCGs to use that money elsewhere.

The Impact

 

Midlands and Lancashire CSU are now fully transitioned into Office 365 and SharePoint Online. They now have a fine tuned migration process to move over CCGs into the cloud, whether that’s from existing SharePoint instances or coming from classic Windows storage.

Many of the applications and workflows we developed while working with MLCSU are still in use today, but the organisation have been emboldened to transfer some of their SharePoint workflows into Flow, and are starting to experiment with PowerApps.

Now, years into their Office 365 journey, MLCSU will really start to see the ROI that Microsoft predict after such a period. These savings will run into the millions over the next decade, enabling NHS England, the CSU and CCGs to use that money elsewhere.

Not just SharePoint

 

  • A PMO application with intelligent feeds and automated workflows for new projects.
  • An annual leave tool that was fully self service, including leave calculations.
  • Use cases of Planner for meetings within weeks of Planner’s release.
  • Supported a roll out of Skype for Business within the CSU.
  • Supported NHS England’s migration of NHS Mail into Exchange Online.
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