Open Source NHS Spine Communications Hub Saves UK NHS £20m in First Year

Lis Evenstad | | September 3, 2015

The NHS Spine – the health service's communications hub that connects key IT services – has saved more than £20m in its first year, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). One year after the upgrade of the infrastructure behind the NHS Spine platform, the running costs of the system – which is used in all NHS organisations and handles up to 1,800 electronic transactions per second – have been cut by £21m compared to the previous version.

The Spine is available around the clock and transfers around 400 million messages per month. It has reduced system response times by almost 90%, resulting in 750 saved hours across the NHS every day, according to the HSCIC. HSCIC’s director of operations and assurance services Rob Shaw said that, although the Spine has improved significantly, there remains work to be done. “We have deliberately designed the system to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of individual care organisations, which means it best meets the needs of NHS staff with new systems; improved speed and functionality,” Shaw said.

Previously, BT held the contract for the Spine, but the HSCIC decided to build "Spine 2" in-house. It ran a competitive tender to find a development partner and settled on software specialist BJSS, with help from open-source firm Basho to create a more flexible system...