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Events to Help Shape Future of IT Systems at the Heart of the NHS

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IT professionals across health and social care are being invited to have their say over future plans for the IT systems that underpin the NHS.

NHS England is holding a series of bi-monthly webinars to encourage people to get involved in how technology can meet the current and future needs of patients, staff and citizens, with the next session “Spine Futures” due to take place on Thursday 23 February.

The existing NHS Spine joins together more than 28,000 healthcare IT systems and sends over 47 million messages a day. It allows information to be shared securely through national services such as the Electronic Prescription Service, Summary Care Record and e-Referral Service.

Since April 2022, work has been underway to develop a new platform to modernise the current NHS Spine over the next two to three years. A core element of the programme has been to make use of modern technologies to create a cloud-based Spine of the future.

Cloud technology makes developing services easier and has the potential to reduce environmental impact.

In December last year, the Messaging Exchange for Health and Social Care (MESH) was successfully replaced with a cloud-based version. MESH connects over 35,000 health and care organisations, enabling them to share a wide variety of data securely and reliably and at scale, with around 70,000 messages sent a month.

The next Spine service set to migrate to the cloud is the National Record Locator (NRL).

Stephen Koch, executive director for Platforms at NHS England, said: “We want the Spine of the future to make the best use of modern technologies and open standards to ensure it meets the needs of NHS users for many years to come.

“That’s why we’re actively engaging the health and care system with the development of the Spine Futures programme.

“Last year’s migration of the MESH service to the cloud was a massive achievement for the teams involved and a significant first step in our Spine Futures programme.

“We’re asking colleagues working in health and care to tell us what they need from the Spine of the future as we take the next steps of our journey to transform IT in health and social care.”

The webinar is aimed at anyone working in health and care who wants to hear about plans for the Spine of the future and share their needs for national services.

The session will focus on the latest developments including how NHS England is working with social care software providers, the latest developments from the National Record Locator (NRL), and the details of how the MESH system migrated to the cloud without impacting the service.

To find out more, anyone working in IT across health or care can register for the Spine Futures webinar on Thursday 23 February, from 3.30pm to 4.30pm.

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