Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) were announced in NHS planning guidance published in December 2015. NHS organisations and local authorities across 44 areas of England have come together to improve health and care in the areas they serve. But what do STPs really mean? And how will IT become an enabler in order to ensure that working collaboratively is done correctly and efficiently?
Having worked in the Public Sector for the last 13 years, I warmly welcomed the news of STPs. The plans couldn’t have come at a more crucial time when the NHS is struggling under budget cuts and are experiencing extreme strain on their resources. With the plans for STPs in place, now is the time NHS organisations and local authorities need to come together and support each other to put these plans into action. However, choosing the right platform is key to ensuring their success.
STPs are a great idea in principle but we need to understand exactly how they will work and the challenges currently standing in the way.
Fear of Cultural Change
Having spoken to Public Sector customers, it seems that all organisations now are moving to a cloud-first policy/strategy. But to deliver this strategy, the IT personnel who have traditionally been managing data centres will instead be expected to manage providers who will be providing that functionality. Therefore, we must be mindful that people will be resistant to this change.
STPs describe plans to close gaps in NHS finances – a theme that has become more prominent as the STP process has progressed. However, STPs are being developed in an IT environment that was not designed to support collaboration between local councils and NHS Trusts, so to successfully deliver this strategy, these bodies will be required to make significant investments in IT. This could mean investing in traditional on premise infrastructures/services, a new Data Centre, Private Cloud infrastructures or co-location into a 3rd party Data Centre which in turn sparks a new set of challenges such as complexity, duplication, non-Standardisation and ultimately a difference of opinion.
One thing that can’t be ignored is the sheer number of applications that all the bodies run. At the very basic level NHS Trusts will run different PAS and EPR systems, not to mention the niche applications that are in production across the trusts. So, to achieve collaboration, standardisation must be implemented effectively which is a huge project in itself.
But what do these challenges really mean?
We have to be mindful that whatever the outcome the focus must remain on delivering better patient care and better living to the citizens of the area. Therefore, analysing the current infrastructure environments and determining the challenges is key to enabling local councils and NHS Trusts to assess the assets, the type of infrastructure, the applications and the capabilities that each of the local bodies need in order to enable them to deliver commonalities across the local area. But this isn’t something that can be achieved overnight.
So what is the Solution?
As unwelcoming as this may sound to some, the solution lies in Public Cloud.
No matter how wary or resistant local councils or NHS Trusts may be, Cloud computing is inevitably the next step in IT evolution. It represents a transformative leap forward for today’s public sector bodies, promising to facilitate collaboration and idea sharing while delivering an agile, data-driven service to residents and patients alike.
But these organisations need to be mindful of choosing the right cloud model and aligning them closely with the local Trust and council’s operating model. Key IT decision makers need to ensure they deploy an effective, economical solution while also successfully addressing reliability, data management and security issues and this is where ANS can help.
ANS have over 20 years’ experience in working with the public sector, ranging from projects such as EPR and DR in the Cloud and Hybrid models, right through to moving the entire IT infrastructure and applications into the cloud.
More recently, ANS has worked with Salford City Council to support them on their transformational journey by adopting public cloud services. To find out how ANS implemented a flexible and scalable public cloud solution to provide the council with faster and more effective performance of its customer-facing digital systems, click here.