In June 2022, the UK Government published its ‘Plan for Digital and Social Healthcare’, detailing ambitions to digitally transform healthcare services by 2025. NHS Trusts need to respond by moving from out-of-date legacy systems to modern technology solutions that comply with a complex set of government and industry standards.
Our client is an NHS Healthcare Trust providing integrated healthcare, community care and specialist clinical services to hundreds of thousands of patients. In 2020, the Trust made exciting plans to modernise its entire ICT estate. The aim was to build strong foundations now, to enable staff and clinicians to provide innovative, digitally led patient care moving forwards. The transformation also needed to establish efficient, effective ICT services for 7,500 users across multiple sites, including several large hospitals and associated campuses.
The legacy ICT estate covered 350 running servers plus third-party applications, equating to 250 terabytes of data under management. Given the scope and complexity of this ICT portfolio, our client recognised the benefit of seeking independent expertise to support the transformation. So, they engaged Mason Advisory’s team to provide specialist guidance and practical support across the areas of strategy and governance, commercial negotiations, and programme delivery.
According to the Trust’s Director of Technology, “The transformation was designed in three phases: stabilisation of ICT infrastructure, improvement of compliance standards, and modernisation of technology and IT services. The overall ambition was to build a robust ICT infrastructure, fit to support future innovations in digitally led care. Essentially, we wanted to move from, ‘ICT must do this to meet current challenges,’ to a new conversation that asks users, ‘how can ICT help you to deliver your work in the future?’”
The stabilisation phase was already in flight when the Trust engaged Mason Advisory in early 2022. “A key driver behind this initiative was alignment with the NHS Data and Security Protection Toolkit (DSPT),” the Director of Technology continues. “Plus, as we moved into a supplier-based model, we needed a consultancy with the expertise and confidence to help us navigate national procurement frameworks, including G-Cloud and SPS (Standard Procurement System).”
Initially, Mason Advisory provided an expert team to support the Trust with the planning, governance and procurement needed for a stable transition from an on-premise to a multi-supplier model. We developed a roadmap to clarify workstreams, key activities and outputs, then align these to the overarching technology strategy. We also provided an independent view on governance – ensuring that dependencies, risks, issues, and reporting are managed effectively. “In particular, Mason Advisory’s experts have provided valuable reporting to the Trust’s senior management,” the Director of Technology explains. “They have helped to develop and present the business cases for delivery of desktop transformation, data centre migration, network transition, and many other projects running alongside. They have helped us to align all the different projects to make sure they deliver the desired outcomes.”
Mason Advisory also used our procurement expertise to review more than twenty multiple, complex commercial contracts across a £10 million IT portfolio. We acted as an authoritative, independent voice to support re-negotiations with suppliers. Plus, we designed audit and reporting cycles to drive supplier accountability for delivering agreed milestones. “Mason Advisory’s people have helped us to negotiate a move towards outcomes-based, fixed-price contracts so that we increase value for money,” the Director of Technology explains. “They have provided significant input into the quality of contracts as well as agreeing opportunities for multi-party contracts and generating savings of more than £500,000. They have worked with our in-house teams to take standard procurement frameworks and refine them to meet our requirements, defining governance parameters, risk mitigations and legal accountability to give us confidence moving forwards.”
More recently, the Trust has been addressing ITSM (IT Service Management) maturity, to establish a service desk resource equipped to meet staff and clinician’s requirements as digitally led care evolves. “Mason Advisory’s service delivery experts are doing more than just analysing our processes,” the Director of Technology explains. “They are independently reviewing our full ITSM capability. They are advising on areas including software release management, supply chain risk analysis, and standard DTAC (Digital Technology Assessment Criteria) compliance. This will make sure that the solutions we select are compliant with national and clinical safety standards, and we have the capability within our own teams and our external suppliers to operate them. That’s really important to make sure that we understand the total cost of any decisions we are taking. Plus, Mason Advisory are working with the Trust’s leadership to align those decisions to the overall technology roadmap, ensuring that we are continuously working to deliver the intended outcomes.”
At this stage of the transformation, the Trust is finalising the successful stabilisation of its products, contracts, and services across the ICT estate. In just one year, it has achieved an impressively high level of DSPT compliance – a key objective of the transformation. It has also established robust supplier contracts with reduced risk, multi-party contract efficiencies, and cost savings of more than £500,000. Work is moving into the modernisation phase, with much of the core ICT infrastructure in place to support new initiatives. “Our current focus is on working with Mason Advisory to design a Target Operating Model that will move us through modernisation and into a period of innovation,” the Trust Director confirms. “We have big digital care investments planned for 2023 and beyond, and we need to know that we have the foundations in place to underpin those initiatives. Our work, guided by Mason Advisory, has delivered a secure, reliable platform that will support future digital healthcare advances for hundreds of thousands of patients.”
“There is sometimes a risk with professional services that you don’t get the result or quality that you expected – but that’s not the case with Mason Advisory. I found them to be customer focused, ethical, responsible, and able to provide the required expertise at short notice. They have the customer’s interests at heart, whilst remaining independent within the delivery model.”
Director of Technology, NHS Healthcare Trust