NHS shifts from ill-fated Spine to Spine 2

By Sooraj Shah
27 Aug 2014 View Comments
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The NHS Spine has been moved onto a new infrastructure by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in an IT operation completed over the weekend.

The Spine is a part of the national infrastructure that stores patient information and enables electronic messaging, it was part of the ill-fated NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

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The NPfIT programme had been scrapped despite costing taxpayers nearly £10bn, and was criticised by MPs last year as the "worst and most expensive contracting fiasco in the history of the public sector".

One of the key issues that was linked with the project was that it did not use an agile development methodology, and this is something that the Department for Health is attempting to fix. It is also using open-source software as part of the NHS Spine re-procurement project, dubbed Spine 2. 

The Spine core services and messaging transitioned across to the new infrastructure in phases, HSCIC said in a statement.

This was to enable the majority of connected services to continue working throughout the weekend and to minimise disruption to the NHS and patients.

The organisation said that the system was being closely monitored in its first days of operations and added that the new Spine infrastructure will now undergo a 45-day period of intensive monitoring to ensure that it performs as expected.

In October 2013, the NHS announced that it had selected US developer Basho's open-source database Riak to underpin its efforts to rebuild the Spine infrastructure.

It has also selected offshore IT services provider Mastek to develop an identity and access management service, which the vendor claims will be one of the largest standards-based corporate identity management infrastructures in the world. 

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