NHSX and NHS Digital have signed a deal with Microsoft, giving NHS organisations across England access to Microsoft 365.
The agreement, dubbed a “landmark deal”, will see NHS staff get access to the full suite of Microsoft 365 tools, such as Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, allowing them to communicate within and across organisations.
Announcing the deal, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “The most up-to-date digital tools and operating systems are crucial for a modern-day NHS – allowing staff to work as efficiently as possible and deliver even better care for patients.
“We have seen incredible, innovative uses of technology throughout the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and this new deal with Microsoft will pave the way for that to continue by ensuring we get the basics right.”
The deal means NHS organisations such as clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS trusts, ambulance trusts, arm’s-length bodies, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Health Education England and many others will get access to Microsoft Office 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security.
The aim is to make it easier for staff to collaborate and share information securely, as well as supporting new ways of working that have been created during the Covid-19 pandemic.
NHSX CEO Matthew Gould said the deal will save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds and ensures the service “gets the best possible value for taxpayers, and is good news for our staff and patients”.
He added: “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.”
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The deal comes as a number of NHS organisations are amidst an IT licence renewal period. Organisations that have made other arrangements with Microsoft will also benefit from the new deal through further discounts on their existing deals, as well as additional discounts on the products included in the NHS-wide deal.
NHS organisations are not obliged to take the Microsoft products and are still able to choose their own suppliers if they want to.
In 2017, following the global WannaCry ransomware attack which hit the NHS, NHS Digital signed a cyber security support deal with Microsoft. Microsoft also provides NHS Digital with a “centralised, managed and coordinated framework for the detection of malicious cyber activity through its enterprise threat detection software”.
In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, NHS Digital rolled out Microsoft Teams to all NHSmail users. NHS organisations not using NHSmail were also given free access to Teams if they applied directly to Microsoft.