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Microsoft Centre of Excellence create emergency operating model for 111 service

13 October 2022

The new NHS Wales Microsoft Centre of Excellence (CoE) created an emergency operating model for NHS 111 Wales, after one of its supplier’s IT systems had to be shut down following a UK-wide cyber attack. 

The attack on supplier Advanced, in August 2022 resulted in the 111 service having to revert to a manual process to manage out-of-hours services. Call information had to be e-mailed to and between individual health boards, bringing significant additional administration work, and causing potential delays and clinical risk. 

The solution involved using components of the Microsoft 365 platform including SharePoint tracking list and Power Platform applications to provide a solid interim operating model. NHS Wales has invested in an all-Wales Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, along with the establishment of a national Microsoft 365 Centre of Excellence to provide for long-term sustainable support, development, and innovation. 

Interim Clinical Director for Urgent Primary Care at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Dr Owen Weeks, contacted the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for support following the 111 service disruption. During a presentation about the new solution at the 29 September DHCW public board meeting, he said:

“I can’t over emphasise how much of a big deal this has been for urgent primary care in Wales” he explained. “We had to pull everyone in, all hands-on-deck to manually transfer patient information between multiple systems and services. We deal with a huge number of patients, we’re talking over 30,000 patients in the last 8 weeks.  

“With the Centre of Excellence’s help, within two weeks we had gone from a manual process to a full blown end-to-end national system and watching the CoE team at work was amazing. It’s been an absolutely incredible piece of work, and we’re eternally grateful” 

The CoE team were able to develop, test and safely launch the solution in a short time, with the help of many partners. They worked with colleagues in the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, clinicians from all health boards, the Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) Business Change team, and Assurance and Information Governance teams, as well as a third-party supplier, TPX Impact.

 Lyn Rees, Head of the CoE said, “Collaboration was paramount, without collaboration we wouldn’t have been able to develop the solution. 

“The DHCW Business Change team created eight training videos in 48 hours, delivered 27 training sessions from Thursday to Monday before the launch, and were on-hand during the week of go live to provide live chat support from 8am to midnight.”  

The CoE, and all those involved in the work have been thanked by many people across NHS Wales, including receiving a formal letter of thanks and appreciation from Judith Paget, Chief Executive of NHS Wales, and the CoE Senior Responsible Owners.  

The NHS Wales Microsoft 365 Centre of Excellence is a highly skilled team delivering a constantly updating portfolio of national services, tools, apps and automations to improve NHS patient outcomes and provide NHS Wales organisations with support to implement local solutions.