NHS to save healthcare orgs £250m with digital hardware framework

31 March 2021

A member of staff greets people entering an NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

The pandemic threw into sharp relief the inadequacies of public health systems around the world as they had to deal with overflow of patients, shortage of medical supplies, lack of beds, and overtaxed or antiquated IT systems. This, in part, fueled the UK’s NHS Shared Business Services’ (NHS SBS) decision to come up with a two-year digital hardware framework to improve the system readiness of the NHS and other public sector associations.

Known as the The digital workplace: Hardware framework, the new guidelines are the latest introduced by the UK’s National Health Service as part of ongoing initiatives to make digital tools and hardware more accessible and affordable for trusts, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), universities, and emergency services affiliated with the NHS.

NHS SBS had begun setting up its procurement framework in mid-2020 starting with the Cyber Security Services Framework, which was critical to ramp up cyber hygiene at the time as the pandemic brought a fresh wave of cyberattacks – many of which targeted hospitals and healthcare facilities.

This £250m-valued framework focused on emergency cyber incident management like urgent incident reporting and 24/7/365 support, specialized cyber consultancy services including organizational security postures like testing and assurance, and security personnel where technology helps augment the abilities of security specialists.

This was followed by the £500m (US$688,685,000) Digital Workplace Solutions Framework, comprised of IT services and infrastructure products from 28 public sector suppliers. The NHS SBS says that IT purchasers will receive around a 15% discount when buying products like servers, storage and networking equipment, desktop operating systems, and various enterprise software packages through the network. This framework is likewise accessible to a wide range of public sector organizations and could end up saving up to £75m over the two years of the framework’s lifespan.

Now The digital workplace: Hardware framework will allow these same NHS agencies and affiliated associations to purchase end-user hardware worth an estimated £1bn (approx. US$1.37bn) from 19 approved suppliers, ranging from global multinational providers to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This hardware could be anything from laptops to phones to printers to specialist healthcare IT hardware, with NHS SBS believing that purchasing equipment under the framework can save in the region of £250m (US$344,342,500) when compared with buying directly from a supplier at list price.

Also scheduled to run for at least years, the newest framework builds upon its predecessor the Link: 2 IT hardware framework agreement which served for a number for years and was recently discontinued. The digital workplace: Hardware framework should further build upon that foundation, streamlining efficiencies and slashing costs for healthcare-affiliated organizations from the public sector.

“The launch of The digital workplace: Hardware framework means the public sector can continue to access technologies that are pivotal to supporting productivity through flexible and innovative ways of working,” said NHS SBS director of procurement, Phil Davies.

“The framework has been carefully negotiated to ensure it offers the latest devices with highly competitive public sector pricing,” Davies noted. “With a comprehensive procurement exercise already undertaken, NHS and other public sector organizations can save valuable time and resources by directly awarding or carrying out mini competitions as required.”