NHS data service SUS to be more flexible after transition from BT

The Secondary Use Service NHS database will offer “a more agile system that can respond better to NHS needs”, according to the HSCIC

The Secondary Uses Service (SUS) database of NHS data will offer “a more agile system that can respond better to the needs of the NHS, with a more resilient infrastructure”, according to the HSCIC (Health and Social Care Information Centre).

The system, which will be unavailable from 5pm on Friday 20 February until the replacement service is fully operational on Tuesday 3 March 2015, has been provided by BT but is being taken in-house.

Rob Shaw, director of operations and assurance services at the HSCIC, said: “There is nothing negative to be said about BT here. It’s more that we are looking at things like how users can access data from devices other than a smart card. We are starting to explore that – so you can still keep data secure, but offer more flexibility to users.

“But we will take stock after the go-live, and present the technical roadmap we have then, prioritised according to what the users want. The key thing is we will be able to make changes in a cost-efficient, incremental manner. Coming to the end of the contract [with BT], we have been necessarily constrained by timescales to agree changes, and so on.”

SUS is the single comprehensive repository for healthcare data in England. CIS (Care Identity Service) is the smartcard system used to identify users on the NHS Spine platform. Both are being moved over to HSCIC.

The CIS transition is taking place from Thursday 19 February to Tuesday 24 February 2015, and the SUS transition will run from Friday 20 February to Tuesday 3 March 2015.

SUS contains 80 terabytes of data – equivalent to 5,000 16GB smartphones, said HSCIC.

An HSCIC spokesperson said: “We take seriously our role in supporting NHS staff to fulfil their roles, and have spent a great deal of time planning and testing these systems to achieve the minimum of service disruption. We are keeping the planned downtime to an absolute minimum and staff will be working around the clock to get the system up and running as quickly as possible.

“We analysed service usage patterns prior to announcing the dates and consulted with users. The transition occurs between the inclusion – or upload of data and publication – when the data extracts are available. The SUS downtime has been planned so that it does not impact on major timetabled activities and causes the least possible disruption by fitting around key dates in relation to the service.”

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