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NHS completes transition to HSCN

All 950 NHS, social care, private sector and local authority organisations have migrated from the legacy N3 network to the Health and Social Care Network

The NHS has completed its transition to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), which it estimates will save £75m annually.

The government launched the HSCN connectivity service in 2017, replacing the old N3 broadband service, and the first organisations connected to the network in October that year.

The transition is now fully completed, with 12,000 sites covering 950 NHS, social care, private sector and local authority organisations connected to the network.

Organisations are able to pick from a marketplace of 21 different suppliers that provide standardised network services, including Redcentric, Innopsis and BT.

Patrick Clark, HSCN programme director at NHS Digital, said it was a “hugely significant achievement” and the largest public sector data network migration ever completed.

“Reforming long-standing services to promote real choice, competition, innovation and value for money is always difficult, but the HSCN initiative demonstrates what can be achieved when you work collaboratively across the health and care system, and industry,” he said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important it is to underpin online, digital services with the right connectivity and I’m delighted that the HSCN initiative has enabled so many organisations to upgrade and future-proof their connectivity services affordably – in many cases obtaining far greater bandwidth for less money. 

“Good connectivity is vital for healthcare practitioners, supporting them with faster, more reliable access to the information and services they need, when they need it. HSCN provides organisations with the ideal way to obtain the best connectivity for their staff at the best price,” added Clark.

“The HSCN initiative has enabled many organisations to upgrade and future-proof their connectivity services affordably – in many cases obtaining far greater bandwidth for less money”
Patrick Clark, NHS Digital

In October 2018, the government launched a dynamic purchasing system (DPS) for public sector bodies to facilitate data access connections to HSCN. Organisations were able to choose whether to go it alone, take assistance from NHS Digital, or club together in a regional procurement.

Dan Parry, HSCN lead migration programme manager at NHS Digital, said the completion of the HSCN migration and turning off N3 “ahead of schedule and within budget is an incredible achievement, given the project’s size and complexity”.

“A great success is seeing the number of local NHS organisations benefiting from significant savings as a result of the HSCN marketplace whilst still being able to upgrade their capacity to fibre-based products. This will enable them to make better use of digital tools, not only during the pandemic but as part of their longer-term digital ambitions,” he said.

“This has been a mammoth task and, as we switch the lights off on the legacy network and bring HSCN migration activity to a close, I look forward to supporting the development of the next-generation network connectivity so that health and care sector organisations continue to fulfil their digital ambitions.”

Read more about NHS and networking

  • NHS Digital issues new policy guidance on internet usage that, at first glance, appears to herald the end of HSCN – but is that really the case?
  • Shetland Islands Council is to receive £1.91m of funding to expand full-fibre broadband expansion to NHS sites on remote islands through the government’s Local Full-Fibre Networks initiative.
  • NHS trust uses BT 5G network to deliver medical services to a 5G-connected ambulance, combining virtual, augmented and robotic technology.

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