Security and ensuring user buy-in are key to the re-procurement of the health service’s NHSNet network, according to top NHS Information Authority official Carrie Armitage.
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Speaking at the Healthcare Computing Conference in Harrogate today, Armitage described the importance of gaining the trust of users in the security of the new network.
"People’s trust in the network’s safety is crucial. If we don’t get that right when we replace NHSNet then we will have problems," she said.
The NHSIA head of access to information confirmed that the business case for NHSNet re-procurement is currently awaiting approval from the Treasury, with procurement expected to begin in early May.
Department of Health officials say that the re-procurement process is currently at the second stage of the Office of Government Commerce’s Gateway Review process for implementing major IT projects. The first of the upgraded NHSNet’s services are scheduled to be delivered by March 2004.
Armitage highlighted the importance of building capacity into the NHSNet upgrade. "It won’t be sufficient to put in systems that don’t meet people's demands," she said. "It’s no good for us to be putting in infrastructure that won’t meet the needs of clinicians to send large images around and get an instantaneous response."
Scalability, availability and quality of service are also high on the agenda for the NHSNet upgrade, according to Armitage. "We have got to do an enormous amount of work determining what will get the highest priority in terms of network traffic," she said.