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New approach for NHSmail2

15 November 2012   Rebecca Todd

The NHS Commissioning Board is looking at using multiple suppliers to provide NHSmail2, using the G-Cloud procurement framework.

NHSmail provides an email service to around half a million staff in a variety of health and care environments. Its successor - NHSmail2 - is being sponsored by the NHS CB and will be delivered from Summer 2014.

Deputy government chief information officer Liam Maxwell told EHI Live 2012 last week that the NHSmail reprocurement is “coming through the (Cabinet Office) controls process as we speak.”

“I’m looking at it in December. The idea around that is about having multiple suppliers so you can choose who to go with, and with open standards between them so you’re not locked into a monolithic contract.”

He said the new NHSmail service would be available via the G-Cloud store.

“It’s a really interesting way of doing it and lots of other departments are looking at it.”

Maxwell added that: “it’s time for trusts that don’t sign up for NHSmail to explain why they are going their own way.”

Dr Simon Eccles, medical director of the Department of Health Informatics Directorate and senior responsible officer for NHSmail, told eHealth Insider that both a framework based around the G-Cloud procurement and a single supplier contract are being considered.

“A final decision can only be met when we have a firm grasp of specific user requirements. Equally, we need to ensure the best value for money for the NHS,” he said

“Preparation for the future of NHSmail is in full swing and we are looking for user and supplier views to help ensure that everyone gets the best out of the new system.”

Dr Eccles said anyone wanting to feedback on what the new service should look like can do so through a forum on NHS networks or by directly emailing the NHSmail team at cfh.nhsmail2@nhs.net.

“There are many options to consider; larger mailbox quotas, (an idea staff have already told us they are very keen on), instant messaging and cloud storage being just three.

"However, nothing is set in stone as yet – all options are still on the table,” he explained.

“The NHS is going through a time of transition and change so it is vital that NHSmail2 is adequately equipped.

“With more potential users being added to the system - about 15,000 every month - from all over the health and social care sector we need to take this opportunity to make sure that all organisations in the new system can benefit.”

Cable and Wireless is the current provider of the NHSmail service.


Related Articles:

24 News: NHS to be using NHSmail by 2013 | 18 February 2010
13 Insight: Another view: Neil Paul | 18 September 2012
4 News: DH looks to secure Choose and Book IP | 22 August 2012
Last updated: 15 November 2012 10:19

© 2012 EHealth Media.


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sorted out in days really?

exNHS 99 weeks ago

Interesting vitriol here, from my understanding the reason this can't happen 'in days' is most NHS trusts could not meet the security requirements NHSmail has to meet to be accredited by CESG. This is what allows it to transmit patient data and link to other secure domains Police, gcsx, criminal justice etc. As for local innovation, innovate with what? 80% plus of the NHS uses MS Exchange anyway, hardly a bastion of open source innovation is it? On the cost models i'm with you to some extent however unless you compare like for like in terms of things like availability sla's dr true dual site resilience its difficult to make true comparisons. Maybe what NHSmail should do the brave thing and move to a fully hosted cloud service like Google or Office 365 if they could get the security elements sorted out. That would really get you lot bleating!


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Hardly vitriolic

TechManager25 99 weeks ago

Massive point is this system is a waste of good taxpayer's money. As for innovation, using good, innovative local practices and cost-effective ways of providing IT infrastructure generally (your point about MS Exchange not being innovative is pretty pointless).

With a focus on secure email transmission rather than building a rather large (and vastly under-used) email system - it could have sorted in days, I'm referring to technical days rather than the security hoops you understand.

I would argue that if the local IT department are worth their salt then they can provide better uptime, better DR, better dual site resilience and still at an absolute fraction of what the costs were purported to be.


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Shameful waste of money

TechManager25 99 weeks ago

The work of fiction that stated it costs almost 900k to run a 2500 user MS Exchange for 5 years, if this is how much it costs to run NHS mail then it should have never ever been implemented. Much better innovation and integration locally. System was implemented anyway, but the absolute criminal way that local email systems have been attempted to be undermined by national proclamations - including the 'secure email transmission' - is a bad joke. Secure email transmission within the nhs.uk namespace could have sorted in days, so the drive isn't about secure email etc, the drive is about getting as many people on it because so much money has been spent - nothing more, nowt less.


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So much for localism

Dave Kelsall 99 weeks ago

'It is time for trusts that dont sign up for NHSmail to explain why they are going their own way.'

Maybe it's time for the DH to realise that the NHS is not a monolithic structure and stop trying to peddle monolithic IT systems. The NHS is a loose confederation of independent bodies each established under a Parliamentary Statutory Instrument and each with a large degree of independence. We have choices and it isn't within the remit of the DH to dictate to Trusts, especially Foundation Trusts, what services we procure.

If the millions invested in NHSmail contracts over the years had been devolved to local level we might have seen some real innovation.

If NHSmail was as good as it was cracked up to be and if people believed it will always be "free" there would be a larger take up.

I wonder how many of the registered users actually use NHSmail? I now have three accounts on there, only one of which I use and that rarely. Two if them are with organisations which no longer exist - which stopped me being able to transfer my account.


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Directories and integration with social services

paul.sammons@nhs.net 100 weeks ago

I worked recently in NHS D&G with colleagues in joint posts - some paid by the NHS and some the local authority. Each had access to their own respective directories. Are we planning to integrate directories with local authorities if not email systems?


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im impressed with their listening

NeilPaul 100 weeks ago

having moaned about nhsmail in my column on here regularly - i have to say that im impressed with the listening/spec building their are doing. when i had a long chat with them as part of this process - they really seemed to get what some of the current weaknesses were and what the wish list was. just hope the implementation is as good.


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some observations

exNHS 100 weeks ago

As an ex NHS employee and NHSmail user some observations. NHSmail was and is a great product much maligned by certain sectors of the NHS particularly the IT community in Trusts aka the 'turkey's voting for xmas' Its MS Exchange like you are all running but its a secure cloud service so yes you might not be able to customise it like your own exchange or pander to your management when they delete their calendar, but the argument for cloud services is surely becoming stronger and stronger. As for the guff about migration, pure rubbish my organisation did it in a few weeks with a single PM and small implementation team. NHSmail provided the tools (check out Quests's pricing!!!) and the support to do it and it was virtually pain free. Its change....get over it!

There is so much internal inertia in the NHS that people don't actually realise how good the service is when compared with others. I've worked in a number of organisations as a contractor since leaving the NHS and there's not a week goes by when I wish I had the flexibility in an email service that NHSmail had/has.

Finally in the never had it so good argument.... Email is a utility service, try telling a large corporate that it should allow all its sites to run their own email domain specify its own policies etc, crazy! The NHS is NOT as special as it thinks it is.

As for the future yes it should continue but....

1. where are the business requirements articulated? Seems like the solution has been selected before finding out what people want?

2. Interesting supplier management model from using multiple suppliers, who to raise a call with? Which supplier am I hosted on?

3. As you can share calendars and folders across organisations how would that work with multiple suppliers? if its x organisations per supplier how do you address the frequent movement of staff between organisations, lots of mini migrations?

4. Interesting migration challenge getting all that data from one supplier in CWW and multiple new ones

5. What about the NHSuk relay that's also under this contract? Maybe the CB or whatever CFH is these days should dump this bit of 'free' connectivity with the outside world and let trusts who don't want to migrate to NHSmail pay for all have their own connectivity with the internet and each other as a way of 'selling' a central service.


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"choice" is key

drjshaw 100 weeks ago

If NHSmail2 as an "umbrella" term for a choice of approved suppliers that can be procured through the G-Cloud framework, that sounds like a good idea. But "choice" is key here.

Current NHSmail has not been the preferred platform for most organisations, it is actually quite frustrating as a user to have to migrate account management between organisations and most people really don't understand the information governance aspect or that sending email from @nhs.net to @yourtrust.nhs.uk is in an unencrypted, unsecure format over the web.

Criteria should be set in the broad context of secure communication and collaboration specifically to meet the use-case and governance needs of healthcare.


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"all options are still on the table?"

nicksamuel 100 weeks ago

How about a non vendor-specific solution? An open source solution? If NHSmail2 is to be lower cost and more flexible than NHSMail, a non Microsoft solution should be seriously considered but I cannot see that happening.


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Wrong question

NHSCIO 100 weeks ago

Shouldn't Liam Maxwell should be explaining why NHSMail has been unable to attract all organisations. And in that light, why is this unsuccessful system being re-procured? And why does he think it will be better this time?

Every significant user of mail knows that NHSMail isn't fit for its stated purpose.


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Does this mean it would run over N3?

Mary Hawking 100 weeks ago

NHSMail was put in to handle patient identifiable data: will the new system be safe for this, and will it run over N3?


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Or N4 from April 2014?

stan 10 100 weeks ago

I would really like to see the email facility having its security measures and administration separated from the health network whatever that is with N4. At the moment as you know you can use NHSmail from the internet but any organisation has to be connected to N3 to administer the accounts. Moving away from the second requirement would allow the offering to be made available (with suitable charging for non-NHS users) to all the wide variety of partners that are involved now, and which will only be increasing in the future with Any Qualified Provider, Social Enterprises, Academic Health Science Networks and the rest.


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