NHS migrates millions of mailboxes to Microsoft Azure cloud

With NHSmail, the secure email service used by the NHS, now based in Azure, the platform can now leverage online archiving, which will allow staff to store and manage older or legacy emails outside of their primary mailbox, and free up space.

The NHS will also automatically update to the latest version of the Microsoft 365 collaboration suite, which will provide users with access to the latest tools and capabilities available.

This development will build on the roll-out of Microsoft Teams, which was introduced in June 2020, and open up greater possibility of providing additional services, such as OneDrive and SharePoint.

The benefits that will now be at the NHS’s disposal as a result of centralising Microsoft services will include easier collaboration across the network, the ability to work on any device from anywhere, and tools for establishing project and group working hubs.

Around 22,000 NHSmail accounts have been moved to Microsoft’s secure Exchange Online platform every weekday since August, rising to around 83,000 every weekend.

The migration of NHSmail builds on an agreement between NHSX, NHS Digital and Microsoft, which took place last summer, to enable all eligible organisations in England to access Microsoft 365 tools.

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“The migration of NHSmail to Exchange Online has enabled us to provide staff across the NHS with a mail system which is functionally richer, more secure and lower cost,” said Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital.

“We have also deployed a Microsoft Hybrid implementation of Office 365 to the NHSmail platform, which is allowing NHS organisations to provision O365 services much faster, integrate with the existing NHSmail identity, and collaborate more easily.

“I’m very proud of the Collaboration Services Team at NHS Digital for delivering the world’s largest ever Microsoft email migration, in the middle of the pandemic, when the organisation, and many of our staff, have been under so many other pressures.”

Clare Barclay, chief executive of Microsoft UK, commented: “While the NHS has had to function under incredibly challenging circumstances this past year, Microsoft has been proud to support its vital work in any way we can.

“The rapid rollout of Microsoft 365 has ensured that clinicians and support staff across England have access to the very latest productivity tools, enabling a truly joined-up approach in the fight against Covid-19 and the effective delivery of essential care services.”