N3 TECHNICAL ALPHA
Ever since July 2013 the YHPSN PMB has been suggesting that the YHPSN and the wider national PSN community, having invested in PSN connectivity, should be able to use their connectivity to connect with their colleagues in Health. In December 2014 the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), now NHS Digital and home to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) project tasked with replacing the current N3 network, approached the YHPSN and asked if it would be prepared to work with it to trial using PSN as an alternative to N3 connectivity; an offer which was accepted immediately.
In January 2015 a joint project team started work on an HSCN Technical Alpha project to prove the hypothesis that a regional PSN could be used as a viable alternative to the current N3 network, provide connectivity across a region and help remove the duplication and cost that currently exists.
The project was also deemed a critical component of the NHS Pioneer programme, demonstrating how all parties involved with delivering healthcare can work together more effectively within a city or region. For this reason the project was watched closely by those in central government.
Like so many things, it took longer than we expected, and some pragmatic and generous assistance from the Leeds Community Health NHS Trust, who leant the project a spare N3 connection, but at the beginning of July 2015 we switched on the link and delivered access to NHS national information to Leeds City Council and City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. The link was adopted immediately by the Public Health teams for access to demographic data which they could access from their desks. Prior to this the team in Leeds had to get in their cars and drive to a tame NHS site to gain access, so immediately the benefits and savings were plain for all to see. The project has now been expanded to provide access for GP audits and Child Protection data, improving the outcomes for the citizen across the region.
The project has proved to be so successful that the N3 Alpha has been extended past the previously agreed timeline of 31st January 2016 and will remain in place until the HSCN Network replacement for N3 is available in late summer 2017.
This project also supports and demonstrates two key aspects of National Information Board Strategy, namely Workstreams 4 and 7.
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