Most Effective Use of IT in Public Service


• Most Effective Use of IT in Public Service

• Most Effective Use of Enterprise-Wide Infrastructure

Winner: Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust

Project: Data Management Project

Business goal: To create a streamlined information access environment
Project partner: EMC

As the on-going controversy surrounding the national patient record scheme illustrates only too well, the National Health Service has not always had a happy relationship with large-scale information technology projects. This is a pity, not least of all because it tends to distract attention from the excellence of smaller scale NHS IT operations such as the Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Centred on the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the Aintree Women’s Centre for Health, and operating four other satellite clinics in the region, the Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust is England’s largest provider of specialist health services for women.

Since delivering its first baby 210 years ago, the Trust has constantly grown the scale and sophistication of its services.

Today, as well as annually delivering more than 8,000 babies and performing more than 11,000 operations, the Trust is a major local provider of life-saving care for serious conditions, such as breast cancer, and life-changing services such as IVF treatment.

Inevitably, the success and efficiency of the Foundation Trust’s operations has come to place an ever increasing burden on the organisation’s information technology infrastructure – and the six-strong team of IT professionals that are responsible for its design and upkeep.

Indeed, last year, the Trust found itself in a position that is familiar to public and private sectors alike.

After years of fighting to meet changing user requirements by rolling out new, often PC-based server systems, it had acquired a widely dispersed set of information resources that were difficult and expensive to manage, and vulnerable to failure.

Some organisations might have been tempted to outsource (but not necessarily solve) the problem. Instead, despite its limited resources, the Trust took the courageous decision not merely to consolidate its IT infrastructure, but to simultaneously deploy a new information life-cycle management system and a business continuity set-up that would safeguard its system for years to come.

At the heart of the Trust’s solution is a virtualised server and ILM-based storage environment from information infrastructure company EMC. Using this state-of-the-art technology, the Trust’s IT department undertook the complete redesign and re-engineering of its enterprise IT storage infrastructure, including storage consolidation, ILM and business continuity. It was a big project, but it took just nine-months to complete – and since then the benefits have been all too clear.

Thanks to the streamlined infrastructure and more sophisticated information management capabilities, all of the Trust’s1,600 clinical and administrative staff now have faster and more reliable access to information.

This has enhanced patient care by providing clinicians with round-the-clock, Internet-based views of patient data, resulting in quicker and better diagnoses and provided a platform for the delivery of a host of new state-of-the-art information systems.

For example, the Trust’s system now support electronic access to patient cardiotocographs (CTGs). These used to be available only as hardcopy that had to be shared by multiple care-givers. Now, stored in the central repository, it is easily and immediately available to all of the hospital’s clinicians, which has a direct, positive impact on patient care.

Perhaps most impressively, these and other service-level benefits have been achieved without increasing IT costs. On the contrary, virtualisation has enabled the Trust to consolidate 50 major applications onto to just 30 servers, and obviated the need for constant procurement of new storage capacity, because existing system are utilised more efficiently.

Thanks to these service-level benefits, and the infrastructure efficiencies which are likely to continue to yield more benefits for years to come, the Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust can now boast of an IT infrastructure ranked in the top 1% of all UK NHS organisations.

And the judges were equally impressed, with comments ranging from, “A clear understanding of how to leverage IT for great benefit” to “An outstanding project that has delivered a robust, sustainable and innovative solution with a small team – a worthy winner”.

Highly Commended

Most Effective Use of IT in Public Service

Glasgow City Council

Until 18 months ago, procurement at Glasgow City Council was a devolved activity that used diverse business processes and multiple legacy systems handling a million invoices generated by 20,000 suppliers. The council’s Procurement Transformation Programme has brought consistent processes to that £650 million spend, taking £15 million out of costs. Over 2,500 employees can now access the e-procurement system.

The Northumbria 101 Partnership

Sometimes the biggest barrier to accessing local services is finding the right number to call. The Northumbria 101 Partnership of Northumbria Police Authority and 12 Northumberland and Tyne & Wear Councils has solved this problem by unifying the region’s dizzying array of non-emergency systems behind a single telephone access number – an outstanding example of what ‘joined-up’ government can really mean for the communities it serves.

Highly Commended

Most Effective Use of Enterprise-wide Infrastructure

BNP Paribas

One of the world’s largest financial institutions, BNP Paribas operates an equities and derivatives business with an insatiable appetite for the massive processing power needed to drive its risk, pricing and Value At Risk calculation services. To meet this need, BNP is working with Platform Computing to build a huge, state-of-the-art virtual processing platform from the PCs of its 30,000 traders around the world.

Coba Plastics

Like all UK manufacturers, Coba Plastics is constantly striving to compete with low-cost overseas competitors by reducing its own costs whilst still raising its business effectiveness. The company’s latest deployment of an enterprise resource planning suite from IFS has achieved both these ends and more: helping to reduce inventory by more than 50%, trimming manufacturing lead times, and enabling Coba to respond to market change.


Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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