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GATESHEAD-based technology experts ITPS have become the only North East supplier to win the stamp of approval from NHS Digital, to deliver services across what will be a new UK-wide NHS communications network.

The new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) is a data network connecting health and care organisations. It replaces N3, the virtual private network that connects around 1.3 million NHS staff and which was previously monopolised by the large carriers, particularly BT.  

By opening up the market to other approved connectivity suppliers such as ITPS, the Department of Health and Social Care say HSCN will improve consumer choice, encourage collaborative working, and underpin safe, flexible and efficient information sharing between health and social care organisations.

Unlike N3, which was designed solely to connect NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, hospitals and GP practices, HSCN allows commercial organisations such as pharmacies, dentists, opticians and even care homes and social housing providers to access the network and share information.

ITPS is one of only 13 companies in the UK to receive stage two accreditation from NHS Digital, which means it is approved to deliver connectivity services. It can also market a range of its other services including data centre solutions, cloud services and security, under the HSCN banner.

The company works with a national and international client base, delivering strategic IT consultancy, implementation, data centre services and unified communications, as well as support services and workspace and disaster recovery. 

ITPS managing director Garry Sheriff said: “HSCN will underpin the digital transformation of NHS services and is the biggest step change in the delivery of health and social care services in decades.

“We are delighted to be flying the flag for the region as the only North East based ICT experts to receive approval from NHS Digital. It puts us in a select group of major players and comes after months of effort going through the rigorous vetting process.

“Alongside assessing our technical capabilities and track record in delivering complex ICT solutions, the audit paid particular attention to our own core infrastructure, which all potential Stage 2 suppliers must have in place in order to be considered.

“We were able to demonstrate that our £1.2m peer to peer, high speed communications infrastructure and the services that support it, go above and beyond NHS Digital’s requirements.

“HSCN opens up a competitive market for the supply of ICT services, puts clients in control of choosing their own partner, and will deliver better value for money, which will ultimately impact on patient care.

“We already have extensive experience in the health sector, and our accreditation is set to significantly expand our existing health and social care client list and support our growth plans.”

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