The UK government’s £6 billion upgrade of IT in the NHS, the National Programme for IT, is being delivered by NHS Connecting for Health. It has a strong commitment to using best practice IT service management and service quality, based on the IT Infrastructure Library and BS15000.

MIS UK spoke with Kevin Holland, the head of service introduction and quality improvement at NHS Connecting for Health Service Management.

What is the NHS Connecting for Health?

NHS Connecting for Health is an agency of the Department of Health. It is tasked with delivering the National Programme for IT and other business critical national IT projects in the NHS.

This is bringing modern computer systems to improve patient care and services, providing over the next 10 years an integrated IT infrastructure and systems for the NHS in England. It will connect over 100,000 doctors, 380,000 nurses and 50,000 other health professionals and give patients access to their personal health and care information, transforming the way the NHS works.

To give an idea of the scale of the work required, the NHS is reputed to be the third largest employer in the world and is second only to NASA in the amount of IT used. We have 50 million patients, 1.2m employees and over 44,000 individual organisations, serviced by at least 729 IT help desks.

What is your role?

I have two quite different responsibilities. The first responsibility is about ensuring the readiness of the service management organisations of our suppliers, verifying that they can support each new service that they deliver.

This is done using a rigorous release management approach, based on ITIL, BS15000, the Office of Government Commerce Gateway and Prince2 methodologies. These all emphasise the need to draw out and manage risks of any new service going live.

The other part of my role is quality improvement. I am responsible for introducing and maintaining a continuous improvement ethos in the whole service management community.
I joined because of the chance to be a key player in the ongoing development of best practice management in what is undoubtedly the largest service management and IT programme in Europe today.

What is the hardest part?

One key realisation is that the NHS is not one homogeneous body that works in the same way but a collection of many unique organisations.

My biggest challenge is creating and maintaining one effective virtual management team across multiple suppliers and customers, each of whom operate differently, have different levels of maturity and have different internal demands. It’s hard enough introducing service management within one organisation. What we are doing here is absolutely relevant to other organisations, both large and small. The only difference is scale.

What resources are helping you do this?

We’ve brought together world-class experience from industry, commerce and healthcare, all committed to improving services. We’ve found the networking and support offered by the IT Service Management Forum very useful.