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Small firms and open-source software put Spine back into NHS after IT fiasco

The Conversation - Without the fuss and delays that have plagued so many large government IT projects, a key part of the NHS digital infrastructure was recently migrated and updated in a single weekend.

The collection of applications and directory services known as the Spine connects clinicians, patients and local services to core NHS services such as the GP2GP patient record transfer, the Electronic Prescription Service, patients' Summary Care Records, and the Choose and Book service. More than 250,000 health service staff connect to it every day, sending more than 400m messages each month.

After the original contract with BT expired, the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) decided to move from a proprietary system to one based on open-source software, using Leeds-based company BJSS.