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Priory signs a new five-year agreement with Ashtons

The UK’s largest independent provider of mental health services will benefit from medicines supply and pharmacy services alongside further development of the newly implemented e-Works electronic prescribing and medicines management solution

Priory has signed a new, five-year agreement with Ashtons that underlines its commitment to improving the management of medicines, following the roll-out of the e-Works electronic prescribing and medications management system.

The contract covers the full range of services offered by Ashtons, which encompass medicines supply, expert audit and clinical advice from pharmacists, training and e-learning for staff, and the e-Works software solution, which was rolled-out to all 53 of Priory’s mental health facilities last year.

Priory will also become the first healthcare provider to implement the Ashtons 2.0 programme, which will enable pharmacists to offer more regular advice remotely, using the information captured by e-Works to reduce the need to visit hospitals to review paper charts.

Adrian Cree, chief medical officer of Priory, said: “We are delighted to have signed this five-year contract with Ashtons because of their unwavering commitment to patient safety, their innovative solutions, and their proven ability to deliver exceptional service.

“Our long-standing partnership with the company has consistently demonstrated significant improvements in medication management and patient outcomes, making Ashtons the ideal partner as we continue to enhance our services and support our patients’ needs.”

Priory is the UK’s largest, independent provider of mental health and social care services. It has a long-standing relationship with Ashtons that goes back to 1997, when the company started to provide medicines to one of its hospitals.

Since then, Priory has gone on to choose Ashtons to provide medicines for all its facilities and adopted its learning and pharmacy services, which see expert pharmacists go on site to review prescription charts and provide advice to prescribers and medicines administrators.

When Ashtons launched e-Works in 2021, Priory chose to pilot the EPMA system at one of its mental health hospitals. A study found the shift away from paper-based prescribing practices led to a significant reduction in error rates.

Patient detail errors were reduced by 87%, prescription errors by 85%, and administration errors by 93%. Following the successful trial, Priory decided to implement e-Works at all 53 of its mental health hospitals.

Planning and implementation of the system took just 14 months, finishing early in 2024. The implementation will not only improve prescribing safety, but enable the development of the Ashton’s 2.0 programme, which will enable more pharmacy services to be delivered remotely.

Stephen Tuddenham, chief executive officer of Ashtons, said: “We value the partnership with Priory and the incredible success the team has achieved. Together, we have built a robust foundation for excellence in the supply and management of medicines, delivering significant clinical and patient benefits.

“This milestone contract renewal will also support our growth and solidifies our reputation as a leader in digital-first medicines management solutions.”

e-Works is a cloud-based EPMA system that can be securely accessed using a modern browser from any device with an internet connection. It includes decision support for prescribers and a medicines administration scheduler to help administrators to ensure that patients get the right medication at the right time.

The system is designed to meet the needs of healthcare providers, and is widely used by hospices and clinics, as well as in mental health. One of Priory’s hospitals became the 100th site to implement e-Works during the roll-out, and the system is now in use at more than 130 sites across the UK.

Exciting new developments, set to be adopted by Priory under the new contract, include an enhanced stock management module. This upgrade will streamline the review of medicine supplies, simplify the ordering of new stock, and improve the management of controlled drugs.

Selwyn John, implementation manager at Ashtons, said: “e-Works supports doctors to prescribe and nurses to record the administration of medications to support patient care. It is evolving software that we are continuously developing, for mental health and for hospices and clinics.

“As we have demonstrated with our relationship with Priory, this is a collaboration. We are not just developing the software that we want to develop; we are working with our customers to develop the software they need.”

The Challenges Facing Early Years Education

In the ever-evolving landscape of early years education, a pressing issue looms large: the 30-hour funding policy and its repercussions.

At the heart of this dilemma is the lack of adequate financial support for nurseries to meet the demands of this funding model. As nurseries grapple with ever-tightening budgets, the inevitable consequence is a reduction in staff salaries and the employment of less expensive and, therefore, less qualified staff. This downward spiral not only undermines the value of early years as a career, but also compromises the quality of education and care provided for children at a stage which research shows is critical to their development. This could, therefore, have consequences for their long-term well-being and fulfilment of their potential.

In Montessori education, we recognise and emphasise the importance of teachers thoroughly trained in child development at every stage, yet the current funding climate fosters a culture of lowered expectations driven by the allure of quick, inexpensive online childcare courses. This risks the integrity of early years education since provision becomes more of a baby-sitting service than an opportunity for nurturing optimal development. Parents seeking childcare options under the guise of choice may unwittingly entrust their child’s formative years to individuals lacking in proper training and understanding of child development.

Another area is the prolonged hours offered by many childcare centres, sometimes from as early as 6.30 am to as late as 7.30 pm, raise concerns about the impact of long days in settings on children’s well-being. The Montessori philosophy underscores the significance of children engaging in the life of the home – such as eating together as a family and undertaking simple household tasks, which build confidence, independence, and a sense of responsibility as well as social, verbal and motor skills. Limiting these opportunities for young children will mean many miss out on the benefits they bring, making a strong case for a more balanced approach to childcare arrangements.

With brexit-induced staff shortages are also exacerbating the challenges faced by the early years sector, further straining resources and increasing the gap between demand and supply of trained and experienced staff. It must be said that the disparity between the actual cost of early years education and government funding poses a fundamental threat to the sustainability of nursery schools. Many establishments find themselves on the brink of closure, unable to bridge the financial gap created by the 30-hour funding model.

Looking at the current state of early years provision, critical questions emerge: Will places for two and 3-year-olds in UK early years settings be reduced rather than expanded by this approach? What is the government’s objective with the 30-hour funding initiative, and how does it align with the reality of nursery funding shortfalls?

In terms of the financial sustainability of early years settings, therefore, the only solution is for the Government to do the sums on the 30-hour funding and to consider raising the funding given to providers. It seems that the current allocation might rely on staff being employed on minimum wage or less.

As we review some of the wider impacts of the funding crisis – such as low morale as a result of low pay and less qualified/ trained staff – it is imperative that we make early years employees feel valued and empowered to pursue qualifications. Recognising nursery staff’s dedication and hard work through appropriate remuneration is essential in retaining strong practitioners within the sector. By offering incentives and support for training before entering the workplace and further training and development throughout their career, we can encourage individuals to enhance their skills and knowledge, ultimately benefiting the children in their care. At the Maria Montessori Institute, we are working hard to offer discounts, scholarships, and bursaries, as well as a degree route, all of which increase wider access to high-quality early years training.

One area to reflect on the 30-hour policy is the broader long-term implications for our children. Every child should be able to access high-quality care and education. Only through concerted efforts and informed discourse can we forge a path toward a more equitable and sustainable early years sector.

Louise Livingston is Head of Training at the Maria Montessori Institute (www.mariamontessori.org), which offers Montessori teacher training and short courses at the UK’s only AMI training centre and authentic Montessori education for children aged from 2½ years at its London school. Louise has over 30 years of experience in education and a background in educational neuroscience.

New State of Physical Access Control Report from HID

Five top technology trends in physical access control – looking ahead

HID, a worldwide leader in trusted identity and physical access control solutions, announces the 2024 State of Physical Access Control Report, identifying five key trends that are shaping the future of access control.

Produced by IFSEC Global in partnership with HID, the report surveyed over 1,200 security professionals across the globe to paint a picture of an industry that has been going through considerable transformation. Conducted between November 2023 and January 2024, the survey reveals five trends, as follows: 

  1. Mobile access and digital ID set to become ubiquitous

While physical ID is still prevalent within the access control industry, there is no doubt that mobile access credentials and digital IDs are quickly gaining ground.

According to this report, nearly 2 in 5 organizations (39%) now actively use mobile identities with respondents naming touchless/contactless solutions (48%) and mobile access (44%) as the two largest trends shaping the wider access control industry.

  1. Open standards driving smart buildings phenomenon

Open standards have become key drivers for more converged security solutions, where physical access control data is helping not just to decide who should be allowed into the building, but also how that building can best be used. As the report shows, almost half of organizations (48%) already have access control/badge scanning systems in place to monitor building usage throughout the day, at least to some extent. Additionally, 43% of respondents cited smart buildings and flexible workspaces being among the top three trends shaping the wider access control industry. Integration with other business functions was also listed by one in three respondents (32%) as another top trend. 

  1. Sustainability becoming a greater influence on business decisions

Sustainability is playing a significant role in access control with nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents citing that those with responsibility for sustainability have either some influence or are fully consulted when it comes to upgrading physical access control systems.

  1. The rise of artificial intelligence for analytics use cases

The use of Artificial Intelligence capabilities in physical access control is becoming more common as AI technologies and expertise are developed. Asked if they are looking to incorporate AI/machine learning into their access control solutions, 38% of stated they were (although the same percentage said they were unsure of the benefits). Only 23% said they didn’t have any plans to incorporate AI technologies.

  1. Growing role of biometrics – especially contactless solutions

The biometrics market is growing at a rapid pace. By 2031 the worldwide market for biometrics is expected to reach $136.18 billion while the global facial recognition market alone is predicted to grow to $16.74 billion by 2030, up from $3.83 billion in 2020. That’s a CAGR of 16% from 2021 to 2030.

All data cited in this press release are from the full report, which provides an in-depth analysis on what is driving the physical access control industry now and into the future. Read it here. To learn about the security and sustainable benefits of HID Access Control Systems, visit the website.

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Successfully implementing HR and finance systems in the public sector 

By Lesley Moore, Director, Field Services, Workday

Implementing new HR and finance systems in the public sector can be daunting. 

Lesley Moore

Traditionally, these systems have been riddled with challenges, including extensive customisation, long testing phases, poor reliability and difficulty applying software and a lack of updates. Not only did that mean public sector bodies weren’t getting a good return on their most valuable resources – their people and their money – but it acted as a disincentive to change. Why – the argument went – expose yourself to the risks of a new system, when there’s little reward? 

Though this attitude understandably lingers, the technology, thankfully, has evolved. Today, cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) HR and Finance systems are replacing the on-premise and legacy systems of old. In place of cumbersome interfaces and time-consuming tests, these systems offer powerful out-of-the-box features that can be adopted with ease. 

Intuitiveness, however, is just one part of the picture. Reliability, safety, security and cost of ownership are other considerations that must be taken into account. Here, too, SaaS solutions can offer new benefits. If we’re to empower finance and HR teams with better technology, challenge the perception of these system’s potential and offer public sector bodies a more productive future, it’s worth examining how the landscape has changed.

Every cloud is unique  

The days of on-premise systems are increasingly behind us. Like the private sector, the public sector is aware that the benefits of the cloud – from lower maintenance costs to more powerful features – cannot be ignored. 

Nevertheless, not all cloud-based options are created equally. After decades of using on-premise solutions, there can be a temptation to simply lift and shift those legacy platforms to the cloud – sometimes on behalf of the companies providing them.. There’s a misconception that this approach minimises business impact and commercial risks like costs or testing phases. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re going to upgrade your system, this approach only goes half way and exposes you to inefficiencies and poor ROI, and perpetuates vendor lock-in.. 

Cloud-native ERP systems like Workday are the other side of the coin and offer benefits that go beyond a change of server infrastructure. These solutions offer an ‘adopt, not adapt’ approach – meaning features are pre-built and can be configured rather than customised to meet individual department bodies’ needs. Whereas, a legacy cloud system might require months worth of coding and  testing and coding to adapt a new feature to a specific organisation, with a cloud-native system the same result can be achieved in less than a day – often in just a few minutes.a day.  

Likewise, security and feature updates are automatic rapid in cloud-native systems, and accessing new features is simplified. Because everything is pre-tested and built by the solution provider, rollouts are fast. With these solutions, customersHR and finance teams are no longer paying to act as their supplier’s own software testing team beta-testers. Instead, they get the intended product from day one. This is why it’s crucial that buyers looking into cloud transformation evaluate the market – and don’t simply opt for a cloud-port of a legacy system that carries over inefficiencies that should be left behind. 

Reaping the rewards of SaaS implementation 

Perhaps even more important than the logistical benefits, like easier maintenance and short testing periods, are the results a SaaS implementation can offer to the end users in finance and HR departments. 

One of the biggest boons to these teams is the ability to undertake sophisticated analytics on their growing datasets. To date, the public sector has often struggled to extract value from data. With reams of it trapped in legacy systems IT teams are left struggling to service ad hoc requests to put it to use. 

A shift to cloud-native systems can keep that data tightly guarded, while deploying a layer of sophisticated analytics over the top, which delivers practical insights. Whether used for financial forecasting, identifying skill gaps or annual audits, these advanced analytics bring concrete benefits to HR and finance productivity.

With a platform like Workday Prism Analytics, IT teams remain in control of security, while teams can self-serve insights without any coding or additional software special licences required. This is a win-win: IT teams can focus on priorities like security, while individual departments can easily assess and share valuable insights. 

Alongside putting data to work, cloud-native platforms are also more easily integrated with other critical third-party systems, without additional costs or requiring extra layers of code to be built. All of this helps to raise the bar when it comes to HR and finance productivity. Those teams become more autonomous, data-driven and engaged because they can easily find and deploy the insights they need, whenever they need them. 

However, this doesn’t mean help isn’t available when needed. Cloud-native providers like Workday, and its net implementation partners, maintain ongoing support and guidance when needed to ensure organisations are maximising the return on their investment and operating with confidence. 

However, it does mean individual HR or finance teams, as well as their larger organisations, have the autonomy to adjust systems to their changing needs without having to call out a Systems Integrator for every new request. 

The silver lining: future-proofing for AI 

With the age of AI well underway, cloud-native SaaS systems additionally offer a future-proof solution for the public sector. These platforms can roll-out new AI features as they become available, with minimal disruption to teams. For organisations that are still experimenting with where AI fits within their workflows, they also offer a safe way to turn such features on and off, without needing to rework an entire system. 

Beyond limited AI functions, the drawbacks of legacy systems and their cloud-based equivalents – long and costly implementation, lengthy update periods and limited features – can no longer be ignored.

For leaders looking to upgrade their HR and finance systems, the process no longer has to be a painful one. There’s an opportunity to break the vicious cycle of high costs and increasingly poor return on investment for outdated technology, and to instead embrace a future of work that’s more productive, simpler and cost effective for the public sector and its people. 

What do health tech leaders want from the general election campaign?

Whichever party forms the next government will find a health and social care system facing enormous challenges. Highland Marketing asked its associates and clients what role health tech and med tech can play in addressing them.

Highland Marketing asked some of its associates and clients what they hope the general election will mean for the NHS and digital health. They argued that whoever becomes the new health and social care secretary will need to invest in sorting out the basics of infrastructure, devices, and care records, if they want to build the foundations for the adoption of AI and innovation in the future.

Yet, at the same time, they argued a new government should be looking for ways to invest in technology that can address some of the immediate challenges facing the NHS, from managing waiting lists and improving patient flow through the system, to maintaining a focus on quality and addressing inequalities. There was also a plea for the next administration to work with the health and med tech industries; and to crack the stubborn nut of interoperability.

Jeremy Nettle, chair, Highland Marketing advisory board: The main parties have focussed on the NHS, because it is one of the top concerns for voters. They’ve shown much less interest in social care, but the health service’s problems won’t be resolved without a functioning care system to reduce demand and free up discharges.

So, whoever becomes the new secretary of state, let’s hope they remember the job is health and social care. They’re certainly going to be taking on the job at a challenging time, with junior doctors about to strike again and waiting lists growing after a period of stability.

The capacity and reform required will not be delivered without investment in technology. Organisations need better infrastructure, devices, and software systems to support the AI that politicians are hoping will be a panacea. Working with the private sector on waiting times could also create a new focus for data sharing. After all, the only person with a true 360 view of their healthcare is the patient themselves.

Jane Rendall, managing director, Sectra UK and Ireland: The new health and social care secretary should prioritise the integration of genomics into healthcare, leveraging the Genome UK strategy to offer personalised treatments and predict disease risks.

Emphasis on digital transformation is crucial across the NHS, with a cloud-first approach that can enhance the interoperability and efficiency of systems and help to improve access to diagnostic tests, imaging and expertise.

Addressing health inequalities, ensuring data security, and fostering innovation through public cloud platforms are also essential. This comprehensive focus will help to modernise the NHS, improve patient care, and prepare for future healthcare challenges.

Jamie Whysall, principal head of healthcare, Netcompany: One of the biggest challenges in the NHS is how to do more with a finite amount of resource and budget – and to balance smart investments that can promote positive change in the short-term as well as elevate citizen and clinician experiences in the long-term.

Investment in new hospitals and large IT systems to bring it together may seem like a heavy up-front investment, but there are step-change approaches available today with proven success in mitigating risk, increasing productivity, and reducing waste costs.

We believe prioritisation should be given to technology that can be used to improve the capacity of existing healthcare systems and the flow of patients through them. That means solutions that can help to optimise, streamline and predict fluctuations in demand and give the healthcare system the agility to adjust across a hospital, an integrated care system level, or at or national level.

Bevin Manoy and Moyra Amess, directors, CHKS: Whatever the outcome of the general election campaign, there is a huge task ahead for the NHS. Health services are still living with the impact of Covid-19, with real pressure on the workforce. There are mounting waiting lists, with acuity of patients increasing as people wait longer for treatment.

To address these challenges, we need a strong focus on patient safety and the effectiveness of services in the acute health sector. That means collecting high quality clinically coded data, benchmarking to find out what works and what does not, and assurance services to support professionals in delivering excellent outcomes for patients.

None of this requires huge, new initiatives. If anything, it requires stability, and continuing to invest in the basics of being able to ensure efficient and high-quality services. There are tough decisions ahead, but to address them we need to be smart and to use the tools available to make good decisions. 

David Simpson, owner and head of product and partnerships, MEDILOGIK: One priority for a new government interested in health tech should be to ensure that large electronic patient record suppliers are forced to fully integrate with the numerous, small, departmental clinical systems that hospitals use. This is a crucial step towards delivering a true, integrated care record, with all the benefits that would deliver for clinicians and, of course, patent safety.

Secondly, national and local projects should be aligned and use the same procurement rules to reduce the conflicting requirements that suppliers tend to face at every stage. And finally, instead of issuing targets, it would be good if policy makers and programme managers could engage with suppliers. After all, we might just have some experience and be able to assist – or even improve! – what they are trying to achieve.

Dean Moody, healthcare services director, Airwave Healthcare: General election campaigns can have a long-lasting impact on health services and the technology they use. A good example is the introduction of bedside TV and telephones to NHS hospitals.

This was a key feature of the NHS Plan that New Labour launched after the 1997 general election. The NHS Plan promised new hospitals and state or the art facilities. But the patient pays model for bedside entertainment and communications was never popular and the units that deliver it have never been modernised.

This general election, it would be great to see one of the parties promise to do away with the patient pays model, and to invest in today’s state of the art technology. That way, we could not only deliver entertainment, but information and digital services to patients, educating and engaging them to be partners in their own care.

Assad Tabet, senior vice president healthcare, UKI and Europe, Mastek: Reducing health inequalities should be a joint priority for the UK government and the NHS over the course of the next Parliament. Collecting, harnessing, and utilising available data should be at the centre of the strategy to achieve this goal. Ahead of the general election, Mastek is calling all political parties to commit to cross-government data sharing to address data gaps in public health surveillance and drive local prevention efforts.

In particular, the focus should be on the following areas, which have consistently been shown to have a considerable impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing: environmental considerations, such as air quality; housing status, including details on homelessness and those living in damp and overcrowded accommodation; employment status, including details of long-term unemployment, where appropriate; the location of, and proximity to, community and acute health services.

Chris Goldie, chief executive, Vertex UK: Every health tech vendor will argue that the digitisation of the NHS must top the new health and social care secretary’s agenda.  Considerable progress in digital strategy and implementation has already been seen, especially in areas such as diagnostics.

Building on this momentum in ways that maximise available innovation, will require a focus on modernising procurement approaches within the health service. Framework contracts and tender stipulations can make it hard for innovative start-ups to work with systems and trusts on valuable, cost-effective solutions.

We believe that to truly advance NHS digitisation, the new health and social care secretary needs to have the process of doing business with the NHS high on their agenda. It urgently needs to be reformed, to support British startups with solutions that can truly enhance patient service delivery. 

Winvic moves forward on second Lincolnshire County Council highways framework project

Winvic Construction Ltd, a leading main contractor that specialises in the design and delivery of private and public sector construction and civil engineering projects, has started work on the second project awarded to it under the Lincolnshire County Council highways framework contract.

Work has begun on the resurfacing and signal improvement scheme on Newland, between Carholme Road and Mint Street, along with sections of Wigford Way, Mint Lane and Lucy Tower Street.

As part of proposed works, Winvic will be improving multiple highway assets, including drainage, footways, kerbs, surfacing, traffic signals and road markings.

The General Works Lot contract is designed to deliver new infrastructure assets and improvements across the County over a four-year period.

Winvic commenced construction in April, and work is expected to be completed by November 2024.

Activities at Carholme Road and Lucy Tower Street junction feature the replacement and upgrade of existing signal equipment, new construction of traffic islands and footways replacements. Newland will see footpath replacements, and new carriageway surfacing.

Altogether it is expected some 9,800sq m of new carriageway will be placed, plus 2,200sq m of footpath asphalt, 100m of new drainage systems, alongside repair works on gullies and ironwork renewals.

Winvic will oversee traffic management, implementing lane closures and one-way restrictions on westbound Newland traffic. The resurfacing works will primarily occur overnight towards the end of the programme with full road closures in place.

As part of its social value commitments to the region, Winvic is also engaging local schools through careers talks and on an art project, which will see the pupils’ winning creations printed on the construction site hoarding.

Winvic is furthering its community support by donating copies of the ‘When I Grow Up’ book to local schoolchildren, has sponsored the Greenbank JFC U9s football team, and has installed defibrillators on city centre site hoardings.

Rob Cook, Winvic’s Managing Director for Civils and Infrastructure, adds: We’re delighted to have been awarded our second highways scheme as part of the four-year Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) highways framework.

“We look forward to building an even stronger relationship with LCC’s team while delivering these transformative infrastructure improvements. Our commitment extends beyond construction through to actively engaging with the local community and promoting safety.

“We look forward to delivering these essential upgrades with minimal disruption and maximum benefits to nearby communities, businesses and road users.”

Jared Taylor, Winvic’s Contracts Director, adds: “We are very proud that Winvic is exceeding expectations on this project and that our dedication to positively impacting the local community is being warmly received. It’s truly a pleasure to be supporting schools in the county through our ongoing social value initiatives.

“Winvic is working extremely hard to ensure works are progressed quickly and efficiently to avoid disruption and long-lasting infrastructure improvements are delivered across Lincoln. Much of this success is due to our diligent and highly dedicated workforce.”

For more information on Winvic, the company’s latest project news and job vacancies please visit www.winvic.co.uk. Join Winvic on social media – visit X (Formally Twitter) @WinvicLtd – and LinkedIn

Digital and data roadmap passes two-year milestone

By Sascha Giese, Tech Evangelist at SolarWinds

It’s now two years since the UK published its 2022-2025 roadmap for digital and data to transform government services and ensure every penny of taxpayers’ money is well spent.

Sascha Giese

The roadmap set out ambitious plans to “transform digital public services, deliver world-class digital technology and systems, and attract and retain the best in digital talent”—and it didn’t pull any punches. 

“Our services are often slow, difficult to use and expensive to deliver,” the roadmap said in no uncertain terms. “Departments operate many competing digital identity solutions as well as duplicative identity verification transformation programmes. Data quality is inconsistent and frequently poor, while effective data sharing between departments is limited.”

It also went on to discuss how it is held back by “costly and outdated technology” and how the government machine fails to “leverage our scale in technology procurement.” It talked about “failing to attract top digital talent” and that ways of working “do not enable or incentivise agile delivery methodologies.”

No one said government transformation was easy

Even today, this honest assessment makes for pretty uncomfortable reading. Fast forward two years, and although no one would have expected an immediate turnaround, those in charge are reporting that progress is being made.

For example, One Login—the solution that allows people to access government services online with one username and password, and without having to repeatedly confirm their identity—has now been used by more than 4.4 million people, according to the latest update from the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO).

While 21 of the top 75 government services—everything from claiming maternity allowance to obtaining an export health certificate—are now ranked as ‘great,’ which means they are quick and easy to use.

Progress has also been made regarding the publication of the Generative AI Framework and the launch of the new Secure by Design approach to help embed cybersecurity digital services.

While all this is a step in the right direction, there is still plenty that needs to be addressed.

Legacy systems continue to hamper progress

There is still an ongoing reliance on legacy systems, which not only fail to provide the level of functionality required for modern public services but also act as a brake on progress and a drain on resources.

There are also ongoing concerns about data—how to store it, what to do with it and how best to protect it.

Despite the gains made, the public sector suffers from data fragmentation that spans numerous systems and databases spread across multiple agencies and departments. In terms of complexity, it’s off the scale. No wonder the march towards digital transformation can sometimes feel like a crawl.

Closer collaboration is required to ensure security

And then there’s the issue of security. One of the best ways to shore up defences is to take a more collaborative approach. That means both the public and private sectors must come together to strengthen security efforts. It also means promoting transparent and open information-sharing within the industry to better understand the threats that are out there.

But a new collaborative approach to security is only part of the solution. The government also needs to ensure it can attract people with the skills and know-how to secure our cyber borders.

For while much of the discussion about legacy systems pivots around cost—and the fact that they’re not designed for today’s data-demanding world—there is another issue that is ever-present.

Like every industry and geography, the public sector is always on the lookout for new talent, not just in its drive towards digital transformation but in the rapidly expanding world of artificial intelligence (AI).

The UK government has made no secret of its ambition to become an ‘AI superpower’.

And with IT and engineering staff in high demand across the public and private sectors, more must be done to attract new talent into the sector so that we can narrow the skills gap.

The roll-out of skills boot camps is one approach that has the potential to deliver results, although much more needs to be done to make up the shortfall. Despite all this, there are reasons to be optimistic.

As Sam Lawler, Deputy Director Strategy, Analysis and Reform, CDDO, wrote in the latest update: “For the past two years, teams across government have been making great strides in digital delivery, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and fixing the foundations of data and legacy that will enable us to transform at scale.

“We’ve still got plenty of work ahead of us to deliver the commitments in the roadmap by next year, from transforming more services to growing digital and data capability and harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence.”

It should be an interesting 12 months.

Health Innovation East partners with Cogniss to help drive the democratisation of digital health

Health Innovation East, the innovation arm of the NHS in the East of England and Cogniss, a no-code ecosystem for digital health solutions, have announced a strategic partnership to launch the Health Innovation East Digital Hub.

A no-code ecosystem is an online collection of tools, ways of working and learning resources that help people with no technical expertise build apps, in a point-and-click way, without the need for coding. Cogniss’s digital health ecosystem makes it quick and affordable for entrepreneurs and health and care practitioners to build sophisticated apps for patients or customers without relying on costly agencies. In the hands of health and care experts the ecosystem creates frontline solutions and helps commercialise digital products across health and care. In doing so Cogniss drives the democratisation of digital health.

Health Innovation East, part of the Health Innovation Network, believes that great ideas only make a difference for our health when they are put into practice. It accelerates great health and care ideas and removes barriers to their adoption and scale in the NHS.

The partnership helps the East’s health and care experts overcome obstacles associated with the cost of developing digital solutions, the demands of regulatory compliance and securing the resources required to bring digital technologies to market.

At the heart of the no-code ecosystem is an ‘innovation sandbox’ – a space where users can create, test and experiment with ideas prior to launch – that is open to all users to help refine their health solutions. The sandbox is also accompanied by an ‘innovators forum’ where users can connect with fellow solutionists, and an e-learning platform supporting professional development for no-code. The ecosystem also offers access to a unique feature that automates many of the requirements of regulatory compliance for frameworks such as DTAC (how the NHS assesses digital technologies). 

Joanna Dempsey

Launching the Health Innovation East Digital Hub

Together the sandbox, forum, academy and compliance functions combine to create the Health Innovation East Digital Hub – a first point of call for healthcare entrepreneurs and SME’s to be able to create and commercialise digital health solutions into the NHS.

Joanna Dempsey – principal advisor, Health Innovation East says: Our aim is to cultivate a community of digital health innovators, whether SME’s or clinical entrepreneurs, and provide them with comprehensive support to tackle the most pressing health challenges and to deliver solutions to the people and places where they are needed most”.

As the digital hub continues to develop access will be available via a digital health innovation programme. The programme will run two cohorts in 2024, each supporting up to 20 participants to produce a minimum viable product. The first cohort launches in September 2024 and is open nationally. Applications can be made by visiting the programme’s microsite.

On the goals of the Digital Hub 

Dr Lloyd Humphreys – Managing Director, Cogniss says: This is a first-of-type partnership to accelerate innovations into and within the NHS, removing the barriers to and supporting health and care innovators to create the next generation of technology at a fraction of the cost and in a matter of weeks rather than years. The aim is to create a sustainable and supportive digital health ecosystem the leverages the frontline experience of clinicians and health care entrepreneurs”.

Piers Ricketts, Chief Executive, Health Innovation East comments:“We are delighted to have worked with Cogniss to support the further development of their platform in the UK, which will enable SMEs and partners in health and care to develop their digital innovations at a much-reduced time and cost than would previously have been required. This collaboration is an excellent example of our goal of ensuring that that great ideas make a difference to our health when they are put into practice. We look forward to working further with Cogniss over the coming months”. 

Potential applications can also find out more about the programme by contacting joanna.dempsey@healthinnovationeast.co.uk

SHIMPAC® Systems: The conditions may change, but SHIMPAC® doesn’t

Durability. Reliability. Perhaps not the most exciting two words in the English language.

However, with some deeper thought we realise just how valuable these two things really are. How priceless is not being let down? How valuable is a product or service that performs consistently to the highest of standards regardless of environment?

Often, only when we delve deeper, or we experience disappointment first-hand do we truly appreciate how vital durability and reliability really are.

When it comes to durability, our roads are subject to such a variety of testing variables. From severe compression to testing weather patterns, any solution installed across our network must perform in a variety of conditions.

SHIMPAC® Systems products are designed to form a strong, stable, engineered structure developed to support and position any commercially available ironwork correctly. All SHIMPAC® Systems products are exceptionally durable, long lasting and recyclable.

SHIMPAC® Systems products do not distort. They withstand excessive stresses including the compression, shear, and percussion forces that street ironwork is subjected to.  Compression strength of the SHIMPAC® Systems product range is over 120 tonnes, making them the perfect durability choice for original installations, remedial and maintenance purposes.  

What’s more, SHIMPAC® Systems product range is compatible with all PAS certified materials used for ironwork installations.  This is vital and highlights the true ‘strength’ of SHIMPAC® – the ability to deliver millimetre precision for levelling ironwork, whilst being used with all, or any, other profiled product line. 

Chamber construction is no longer just brick, but a combination of materials including pre-cast concrete, flowable mastic, or flowable mortars, and SHIMPAC® Systems products sing in harmony with each type of material.

Seasonal Success

Beyond compression damage from traffic, the UK’s seasons bring their own unique challenges to our highways and the ironwork seating beneath them. From melting roads in summer to water penetration in England’s notorious downpours, as well as the subsequent expansion in a biting winter, the products keeping our roads usable must be ready for whatever our climate throws at them.

SHIMPAC® Systems are installed quickly and without fuss all year round with minimum equipment and materials. The product range is suitable for use for civil engineering and construction applications both above and below ground including ironwork seating, permanent shuttering, and external cladding.

The SHIMPAC® Systems are virtually completely waterproof. With just 0.07% water absorbed after 24 hours of total immersion – making SHIMPAC® the standout choice when it comes to preventing erosion beneath ironworks.

When summer is upon us and road surfaces are being tested amidst heatwaves, SHIMPAC® remains resolute. The products are unaffected by temperature extremes and have been tested to BS 476 Part 6.7 – classified as Class 1 surface spread of flame.

SHIMPAC® products are not season specific. Compatible with all bonding agents they can be installed in any environment, including below water line. So, hot or cold, rain or shine – SHIMPAC® doesn’t let you down.

Barry Andrews, SHIMPAC® Technical Lead told GPSJ:

“For durability and reliability, SHIMPAC® doesn’t compromise. All year round, the product range and system handle whatever the conditions throw at it. We’re often asked about the life cycle of our system, but as the earliest installations of the SHIMPAC® system over 30 years ago are yet to fail – it’s difficult to give a definitive answer. It’s safe to say these products are built to last, and they do just that.”

Maternity tech launched to help NHS measure and enhance safety 

Health tech provider C2-Ai has formally launched a new ‘observatory’ system to help hospitals gain a better understanding of risks, outcomes and safety within maternity and neonatal services.

Announced at the annual NHS ConfedExpo, the new system will equip hospitals and frontline teams with a detailed picture of individual health trajectories for women, and the performance of maternity units.

Known as the ‘Maternity & Neonatal Observatory’, the system is based on a highly regarded AI-backed risk methodology already used in the NHS, and in top hospitals around the world, to measure safety and performance, highlight hidden risks in healthcare, and safely manage waiting lists.

By shining new light on outcomes for mothers and babies, it will help healthcare providers to proactively identify and address areas of concern early within maternity services, before they escalate or become systemic problems.

Frontline clinical teams will also be better informed about specific risks and care requirements for individual women, including any specialised support needed to ensure favourable outcomes.

Dr Mark Ratnarajah, a practising NHS paediatrician and UK managing director for C2-Ai, said: “Maternity services have come under close scrutiny in the public eye. By working closely with partners in the NHS, we will provide capabilities that can alert healthcare providers to challenges at the earliest of stages. And they will have new analysis to help them to demonstrate quality to regulators, maternity incentive schemes, and the outside world.

“Insights needed to achieve this can often be buried within data held in disparate places. We can now decode that complex clinical data, and unearth intelligence needed to support a learning environment. In addition to current evaluations of compliance with processes, services will have a new means to help them understand, interrogate, and enhance outcomes on an almost continuous basis.”

Early adopters within the NHS are expected soon, with maternity teams in trusts across several regions having already provided positive feedback on the observatory’s capabilities.

The system works by calculating and comparing in-detail observed outcomes for women and babies, in relation to expected outcomes for those individuals. Tailored for the acuity level of each maternity and neonatal service, the observatory uses AI and machine learning algorithms, widely proven in the NHS and internationally, to assess a total of 47 clinical factors. It takes into account case-mix adjusted maternal and neonatal clinical outcomes, impacts from social determinants of health such as ethnicity and deprivation, and comorbidities.

Maternity services are then able to visualise in granular detail where they may need to focus attention. The same system then allows providers to track if policy changes and quality improvement measures put in place have led to improvements.

Healthcare providers will be better equipped to identify patterns – for example the prevalence of sudden or unexpected increases in complications. They will be able to carry out deeper root cause investigations into adverse events. And they will be able to use insights to support accurate reporting on performance to regulators, and NHS Resolution’s Maternity Incentive Scheme.

Significant gains are also expected in tackling maternal healthcare inequalities. Research released in 2022 revealed maternal mortality rates to be four times higher for women from black ethnic backgrounds, compared to white women, and nearly twice as high for Asian women. Women residing in the most deprived areas also experienced higher maternal mortality rates. The findings were published in a report from Birthrights (1), which also examined inequalities in risks facing babies, including stillbirth, injuries, and brain damage.

Combined analysis of community care, and maternity and neonatal outcomes, made possible through the Maternity & Neonatal Observatory, is expected to support healthcare providers’ ability to measure progress in tackling such inequalities, including in NHS England’s Core20PLUS5 programme on narrowing healthcare inequalities.

Stephen Mackenney, CEO for C2-Ai, and a former head of quality, safety and clinical governance in the Department of Health, said: “New insights available through the Maternity & Neonatal Observatory, can help services to react to immediate challenges, and to proactively forward plan. This has the potential to support strategies at national, regional and local level, to help healthcare providers to focus training, to personalise care for individual women, to plan resources across healthcare systems, and to develop policy, based on evidence of what delivers the best outcomes for people receiving care.

“Healthcare providers are working tirelessly to improve quality and safety. I look forward to seeing our technology support them in their mission to enhance care in the maternal services so many people rely on.”

Solving the public sector productivity puzzle: why connectivity holds the key

By Anne-Marie Vine-Lott, Director of Health, Vodafone UK

Anne-Marie Vine-Lott

Restoring public sector productivity is a national priority.

Recent ONS figures reveal productivity levels in the public sector considerably worsened in late 2023 – especially across healthcare and education – and to this day remain 6.8% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The Office for Budget Responsibility believes returning to pre-pandemic productivity levels could save £20 billion a year – improving public service quality and reducing the burden on taxpayers. But how can we go about achieving this goal?

I strongly believe that safe, reliable, world-class connectivity is key for transforming public sector productivity and ultimately citizens’ experience. Each part of the public sector has its own challenges, but our breadth of experience and the flexibility of our technologies mean that we can innovate at a pace that works for all stakeholders, whether we’re talking about NHS patients and staff; students; citizens working with councils; or public services of any kind.

They all stand to benefit from top-tier connectivity and the roll-out of 5G.

Harnessing technology in healthcare

In healthcare, connectivity has a direct impact on patients’ abilities to access services, their experience navigating their care; and their ability to self-manage their health if they have a long-term condition.

Connectivity, whether mobile (4G/5G) or fixed, public or private, is fundamental for accelerating the adoption of new and existing technologies that facilitate these improvements. It’s why having the right underlying connectivity in place in every hospital and GP practice is key for them to run as efficiently and productively as possible – and we have already started to see what a connected healthcare ecosystem could look like.

In A&E departments across the country, Vodafone has partnered with eConsult Health to roll out eTriage  – a self-registration system which is helping reduce waiting times and improve patient safety. Through the self-registration process, eTriage collects patients’ medical histories to quickly identify those that need medical attention most urgently, as well as reducing the general waiting time for emergency treatment. Overall, it makes waiting rooms safer, helps reduce workforce challenges, and means patients get seen more quickly.  

It’s clear that hospitals need a network that can keep up with the growing demand from doctors and patients for faster, more accurate information. The latest technology can also help free up much-needed resource for time-poor and under-pressure healthcare workers.

Helping educators adapt to hybrid teaching

We all witnessed how vital it was for students and teachers to stay connected during the pandemic. Back then, it was hard to grasp the long-term impact on schools, universities, and students.  

Now, recent figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that the lingering effects of lockdowns on education threaten to wipe £700bn off the global economy, potentially stunting growth for decades.

It’s essential, therefore, to ensure educators can deliver to their full potential in the post-pandemic hybrid teaching environment – so those students learning remotely can benefit just as much as those attending in-person.

Through Connected Education, Vodafone is helping educators with this new hybrid learning norm: helping them take smart, simple steps forward to deliver online education experiences seamlessly.

Using Vodafone’s ultra-low latency 5G network, we ensure that collaboration is still a key element of learning – even when not in the same room. With our partner Sensing Feeling, we provide many institutions with Emotive Sensing, to monitor the mood of the “room” during seminars. And with our scalable cloud Contact Centre as a Service system, we help universities across the UK remain productive in student recruitment, clearing, and student wellbeing.

Looking after local government

Local governments, who are working tirelessly to ensure services run smoothly against a backdrop of limited funding and increasing demand for services, need the best connectivity.

When COVID struck, Barrow Borough Council had to quickly adjust their ways of working. They worked with Vodafone and Centrality to safely integrate Microsoft’s suite of solutions, beginning with a cloud-readiness assessment to tailor the support to the council’s specific needs. This ensured a seamless transition to Microsoft 365, which the council still uses today for secure, collaborative, efficient operations.

In Kingston, we helped with a different, but equally significant issue: keeping the town clean from fly-tipping. Currently, financial pressures faced by councils means that local household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) have to close – which inevitably leads to increased fly-tipping. With Vodafone’s Smart Wireless Camera, which supplies authorities with live surveillance of illegal dumpings, Kingston Council can now allocate their already limited resources, more effectively – and have seen a reduction in fly-tipping by 80% on average.

Transforming our public sector is within our reach. By making carefully considered investments in establishing smart, digital foundations we can support the adoption of new and existing technologies as well as collaborating with businesses who can offer the connectivity tools and expertise needed, we can restore our public services and unlock the productivity puzzle together.  

The need to modernise secure content communication approaches

By Tim Freestone, chief strategy and marketing officer, Kiteworks

The sheer number of cyber-attacks in recent years puts the inadequacy of current systems into sharp focus. Alas, many public sector organisations are still using decades old legacy, homegrown technologies to manage the storing, transfer, and sharing of data. Although this approach has historically been adequate, it can no longer keep up with the growing cyber threat landscape. This is why the UK Government has initiated a new cyber security strategy that focuses first on establishing resilience within the public sector.

Tim Freestone

Government organisations must take responsibility for securing their daily operations, communications, and data activity. In government, data is consistently being moved, shared, and collected, both internally between departments and externally with third parties. Keeping this data safe throughout its communication lifecycle is essential to the reliable functioning of national services and the protection of people’s privacy. Whether it is patients’ personal health information or mission-critical data, any breach can cause serious disruption.

The need for cyber resilience

As of 2023, the UK was the third most targeted country in the world for cyber-attacks. Because of this, cyber resilience is a necessary cornerstone of the UK’s strategy for national resilience. The Government Cyber Security Strategy for 2022-2030 recognises that the cyber security landscape is evolving, and that its approach to resilience must evolve with it. The government has been tasked to lead by example for the nation’s private sector. It is, therefore, imperative that central government departments set the standard for robust, trustworthy, and compliant data and communication security.

Cyber threats across the public sector are on the rise. Between 2020 and 2021, 40% of cyber incidents managed by the National Cyber Security Centre targeted the public sector. Ransomware attacks on the NHS saw patient data fall into the hands of malicious actors, and several local councils were locked out of their systems due to ransomware attacks. These incidents not only result in significant costs, but the increased vulnerability of critical national infrastructure, government organisations, and other public sector services also puts sensitive and mission-critical data at risk.

Unfortunately, as technology develops, malicious actors are leveraging new and more sophisticated techniques to circumvent data security. The problem is that many government departments continue to rely on homegrown solutions and legacy systems that are no longer fit for purpose. The IT solutions being used for secure content communication, such as email systems, data transfer and file sharing, have reached the end of their lifecycle. Not only can they not develop as this new strategy needs them to do, but they are introducing an increasing number of risks and exploitable vulnerabilities.

Unique challenges

As the backbone to countless public services, central government organisations have some unique challenges to consider when it comes to secure data communication and the solutions they need to achieve it.

Firstly, is the risk brought on by interagency communication. Central government organisations have a long supply Sensitive PII data chain, both internally and externally. This introduces many more potential areas of risk, such as emails falling into the wrong hands or files being accessed by malicious parties when being shared. In addition, these communications are often happening across different channels, creating silos which further add to the risk of a breach.

Secondly, is the need for service assurance. Mission-critical services, such as emergency weather responses or national security, rely on high-volumes of data to function properly. It is essential that this data is not disrupted when being collected, transferred, or processed.

Then there is the sensitivity of the data itself. People-facing services, such as healthcare, handle vast amounts of sensitive data. This must be stored in compliance with regulations like GDPR. Unfortunately, it remains a prime target for attack and so must be strongly protected to deter attacks and prevent accidental leaks

More needs to be done

Plenty of progress has been made to improve the UK’s position to meet these challenges. However, there is a lot more to do. Government organisations need to look at two pillars. Firstly, to build a united defence and secondly, to build resilience and be empowered to manage their own cyber risks. This will lead to them reducing vulnerabilities and risks while improving visibility over activity, strengthening the security surrounding content communication, and building processes that align with regulatory compliance requirements. In doing so, organisations must consider solutions that can scale as threats evolve and that can be integrated across organisations – or that are highly interoperable and compatible.

A turning point

Government organisations have reached a turning point. They must take the leap to re-evaluate and reinvent their secure data communication solutions before the capability gap between them and potential adversaries grows too stark.

Thankfully, help is at hand. There are secure file and email data communications platforms on the market that are built to enable central government organisations to meet modern data security requirements. Such a Private Content Network empowers agencies to share sensitive content internally and with third parties by email, file sharing, file transfer, and other channels at the highest levels of security, governance, and compliance.

Chubb Joins the Lancashire Skills Pledge: Committing to Community Engagement and Employment Excellence in Blackburn

Chubb Fire & Security is proud to announce its recent commitment to the Lancashire Skills Pledge, solidifying its role as a leading employer in the Blackburn community, where its UK headquarters is located. By joining this vital initiative, Chubb underscores its dedication to nurturing local talent and enhancing employment opportunities across the region.

The Lancashire Skills Pledge, which recognises organisations actively contributing to skill development and employment opportunities, now counts Chubb among its esteemed network of over 400 businesses. As part of this pledge, Chubb is committed at empowering individuals and fostering a skilled workforce that can meet the challenges of tomorrow.

As a new member, Chubb has been awarded a Skills Pledge certificate and a member badge – symbols of its dedication to community development. These emblems represent Chubb’s promise to inspire, upskill, and create pathways for career advancement within the local community.

Kirsty Brooks, Director of Employee Experience and Development at Chubb commented on the partnership, saying, “By signing the Lancashire Skills Pledge, we reaffirm our commitment to the professional growth of our employees and to the broader Blackburn community. We are excited to play a central role in shaping a future where everyone can access the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Chubb’s engagement with the Lancashire Skills Pledge is an opportunity to showcase its ongoing learning initiatives and successes in community involvement.  This partnership is especially significant as Chubb continues to strengthen its presence in Blackburn. This strategic move enhances Chubb’s workforce capabilities and enriches the company’s community ties. The Skills Pledge aligns perfectly with Chubb’s goals to provide meaningful employment opportunities and be an active participant in Lancashire’s economic development.

Chubb is looking forward to making a lasting impact and fostering an environment where every individual has the opportunity to thrive. To find out more about Chubb’s opportunities in the region and throughout the UK, please visit www.chubb.co.uk/jobs.

Why standards are key to building trust in AI

There is considerable excitement about the potential of AI to deliver more accessible, efficient, and high-quality healthcare; alongside concern about data privacy, bias, and how these new tools will be used in clinical practice.

The key to realising the benefits and addressing the concerns is the adoption of standards for the development and implementation of AI by manufacturers and their customers. And the good news is that standards are both available and developing rapidly, says Dean Mawson, clinical director and founder of DPM Digital Health Consultancy.

There’s considerable interest in the potential uses of AI in healthcare at the moment; but there is also concern about the possible risks that it could pose.

Challenges include questions about data privacy and algorithmic bias, how we can make sure that AI tools are subject to robust validation and testing processes, and how to make sure they are used safely in a clinical setting.

Dean Mawson

To address these issues, manufacturers will need to be transparent about their data models and the way their algorithms are trained and validated. There will also need to be more education and training for the people who procure and use these tools.

Building trust

However, that will only take us so far. Manufacturers are, understandably, keen to protect their intellectual property – and some AI operates as a ‘black box’ around which we can only see inputs and outputs.

At the same time, busy healthcare organisations, clinicians and patients need to understand the fundamentals, but are never going to be experts in such a complex area. So, how do we secure the adoption of AI in this environment, and make sure its risks are properly managed?

The key is going to be ‘trust’ which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as: ‘a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’. And one way in which other sectors, from airlines to engineering and med tech, build trust is through regulation.

Few people in the world really understand how a plane is built or a nuclear power plant operates. Instead, we trust they are safe because they are highly regulated, and operate to well understood, international standards.

Standards for AI in healthcare

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a rapid acceleration in the take-up of health tech of all kinds, there has been growing interest in standards for AI in healthcare.

In the UK, the starting point is DCB0160 and DCB0129, which date back 15  years to a programme to encourage health tech vendors and their customers to take a ‘safety approach’ to the design, development, deployment and use of digital health systems.

DCB0160 requires trusts to risk assess any customisations and reconfigurations, to determine whether they are good to go live and DCB0129 requires vendors to carry out a risk assessment on their product.

Both should be very familiar, as compliance with these standards is mandatory under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Then, we have BS ISO/IEC 30440 and BS ISO/IEC 42001.

These are international standards developed by experts from 50 countries, led by the British Standards Institution, and they provide a validation framework and a management system for AI in healthcare.

BS ISO/IEC 30440 is designed to help manufacturers to risk assess medical technology using machine learning and to mitigate any hazards found. While BS ISO/IEC 42001 is designed to help organisations to create a management system to implement and govern this technology effectively.

User friendly – up to a point!  

The BSI and its experts have worked hard to make these standards user-friendly. For international standards, they are written in lay-person’s terms and come with examples for some of the clauses, indicating how to apply them.

Even so, it’s been recognised that adopting these standards is not straightforward, and the University of York has been commissioned to develop a safety assurance framework to help manufacturers and deploying organisations.

This is underpinned by an established process known as the assurance of machine learning for use in autonomous systems, or AMLAS. Effectively, the University is working out how to apply this to healthcare.

Challenges to using standards in practice

So, we have some standards for the development and deployment of health IT systems generally and AI tools specifically, and the start of a structure for applying them, but there’s no doubt that we are at the start of a journey.

As we learn more about AI in healthcare, we’re going to need to revise the standards and review our governance arrangements; and that’s a positive; it’s how we move forward.

Despite this, there are obstacles on the road. Because these standards support a safety approach, they apply to both manufacturers and healthcare organisations (and also clinicians and patients, who have their own part to play in using and interpreting these tools safely).

In theory, that means the cost of compliance should be borne by both manufacturers and users; but in practice there is considerable push-back from healthcare organisations against being asked to pay for something that is not mandatory.

Mandation may be coming. The UK government has a roadmap for the development of an effective AI assurance ecosystem, and the healthcare AI standards are part of it.

The EU has also adopted landmark legislation to create a legal framework for the development and adoption of AI, that covers data quality, transparency, human oversight, and accountability; and manufacturers who operate beyond the UK are not going to be able to ignore it.

Time for a proactive approach  

We also need to make sure that healthcare organisations are proactive about using these standards and set-up to work with them.  

That means making sure they have well trained, competent, clinical safety officers in place, but also making sure they are working within safety management systems that include everyone, from board to ward, in the design, development and deployment process.

I’m planning to write more about this later in the year. Meantime, the key point is that this is all about trust. If we want to build a healthcare AI industry in the UK, we need trust. If we want organisations (and the clinicians working in them, and the patients relying on them) to benefit from that industry, we need trust.

Raising awareness of the standards that are available for the development and adoption of digital health systems and AI tools is vital because they give us a structure and process on which to build that trust.

Everybody can see what has been done to make sure the development and deployment of these new technologies is ethical and clinically safe, and that will build confidence in the ability of AI to deliver a more accessible, efficient, and high-quality NHS.

Dean Mawson: Is a registered nurse working in London with an interest in clinical safety going back almost two decades. He is clinical director/founder at DPM Digital Health Consultancy, a company that providers regulatory compliance services to digital health manufacturers and health organisations.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust works with Oleeo to streamline recruitment

NHS trust is adopting new recruitment software to streamline processes, improve experience for managers and candidates, and address equality, diversity and inclusion

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is working with Oleeo to help to support its recruitment processes and deliver a better experience for recruitment managers and candidates.

The trust, which employs 14,000 people across two acute hospitals, 13 community hospitals and a range of community, primary care and mental health services, is planning to go-live with the new recruitment, applicant management, and reporting software in May.

This will help managers to use the system to recruit around 1,800 people every six months by creating job adverts that work for a diverse pool of potential applicants, including more personalised information for candidates, and creating better data on what is working.

Iain Reed, who works for the recruitment team at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, explains: “Like other NHS trusts across the country, we face an ongoing challenge in recruiting the nurses and other colleagues to meet the demand for our services.

“We want to change the way we approach recruitment and we’re pleased to be working with Oleeo to develop some really innovative ideas to achieve this.

“Using Oleeo’s ATS software means we will be able to send candidates a video to show them all the things that are great about working here. We also want to improve equality, diversity and inclusivity across the trust.

“The new system will give us better data on which groups we are recruiting from, as well as automated features, to make sure that our managers are supported in writing adverts that don’t inadvertently exclude anyone from the hundreds of career paths we have to offer.”

Oleeo was founded in 1995, and it now delivers technology and talent acquisition support to more than 400 employers globally.

In the UK public sector, its software is used across central and local government and by 70% of police forces. Oleeo is also working with four NHS organisations, making Somerset NHS Foundation Trust its fifth health service client.

Samir Khelil, director at Oleeo, said: “As a company, we have been doing what we do for 27 years, and that is helping to transform the way that employers recruit. We want to do the same for the NHS, working with organisations like Somerset that want to collaborate with us to adjust the status quo.

“We don’t just want to work with people who want to keep doing things the same way. We want to transform what they do, and Somerset are completely aligned with achieving this.”

The Oleeo software will enable the trust to speed up recruitment by automating aspects of the recruitment process and giving managers and candidates access to dashboards that show where responses or checks need to be completed.

Taunton, Somerset

The trust was also looking for more flexibility to adapt the system for its needs, for a better user experience for managers and candidates, for better data, and for better support for its diversity, equality and inclusivity team.

The Oleeo solution has diversity built into its product stack, from a tool to pick up terms that could have an adverse impact on applications, to reporting tools that can help recruitment teams identify groups that are not coming forward in response to ads and adjust processes in response.

Iain Reed added: “There are around 350 different careers paths at our trust, from doctors, nurse and allied health professionals, to porters, cleaners and clinical coding and many in between.

“We put a lot of emphasis on training because we don’t want to lose good colleagues, but that makes it extremely important to get that initial recruitment right and that is what Oleeo will help us to do. We absolutely have the ambition to say: this is the way everybody should recruit to the NHS.”

Oleeo’s off the shelf solution is fully integrated with the NHS Electronic Staff Record and with NHS Jobs, and the company is keen to work with NHS customers as they come on board to create additional features to support them.

Is ‘smart health tech’ solving the right problems for the NHS?

We need to focus on solving the right problems with technology, and facilitate better conditions, in order to improve smart healthcare adoption at scale in the NHS, writes Dr Paul Deffley, chief medical officer for Alcidion.

Where would you position the NHS in relation to other countries, when it comes to the adoption of innovative technologies to support patient care?

Dr Paul Deffley

Recent research from Newsweek and Statista, which ranked the world’s top ‘smart hospitals’, placed its first NHS trust at position 72 on the list.

This finding caught the attention of delegates at March’s Digital Health Rewired 2024 conference, who were surprised by the extent of the seemingly faster pace of smart technology on the other side of the Atlantic.

Notably, led by the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital, more than 100 US healthcare organisations hold a heavily dominant presence on the list of 330 hospitals. So why have they been successful, and should this mean anything to the NHS?

An opportunity to reflect and learn? Moving beyond pockets of innovation

Newsweek’s global ranking is of course only one piece of research, unlikely to comprehensively represent technological deployments at every level of healthcare.

Although a further 21 UK sites receive mentions further into the ranking, I would suggest that there are great examples of smart healthcare in the UK, to which the league table doesn’t do justice.

Yet adoption of many innovative technologies that can positively impact patient care, still tends to happen in pockets in the NHS, often in the form of pilots that struggle to scale and deliver impact more broadly.

There has been much purported around the role of smart healthcare for decades – a promise that still holds much excitement. But progress at-scale often remains hindered.

As someone who has worked in clinical leadership and CCIO roles in NHS providers,  commissioning and system transformation, before working directly in the health tech industry, I remain passionate that obstacles can be removed and sizeable benefits consistently realised. 

With that in mind, Newsweek’s research offers a reflection point on ways to boost effective use of innovative technologies available today to the NHS, by understanding what has worked for peers around the world.

What are the barriers we need to overcome?

Heart failure is one clinical priority that could be better served by smart technology. Evidence, that has now existed for many years, has shown that remotely monitored heart failure patients realise better outcomes.

In many cases patients on remote monitoring pathways are less likely to be admitted to hospital, more likely to comply with medication, and can be less likely to suffer complications or death as a consequence of heart failure.

Yet, many patients in the UK still have no access to remote patient monitoring, despite an urgent push for such approaches during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The problem in creating ubiquitous access to such services is not the technology itself, or evidence of efficacy – both of which can be surfaced. So, what is needed?

Back to our smart hospital exemplars – whilst highlighting AI, robotics, digital imaging, and telemedicine as standout areas hospitals have excelled in, the ranking doesn’t detail recipes for success.

Speculatively though, a panel discussion I was involved with at the Rewired conference, suggested possible answers, that might lend lessons for better adoption in the NHS.

Are we solving the right problems?

Dr Lia Ali, a clinical advisor to NHS England’s Transformation Directorate, told the conference that for smart health tech to be successful, it first needs to solve a problem.

This might sound obvious. However, technology vendors often still build functionality without understanding the problem they are trying to solve.

In the US, many smart hospitals are likely to have been successful because they have used technology to respond to a problem that has both a patient and commercial level benefit. These are in essence commercial organisations that need to manage profit and loss sustainably. Failure to do so can have significant impact, or worst-case scenario they might cease to exist.

That is not to say they aren’t driven by patient outcomes. But this overt commercial driver means that hospitals are often willing to take organisational risk and invest to achieve new models of care that can and have unlocked benefits.

This is less inherent in NHS behaviour. However, a different version of the same driver facing NHS organisations is productivity.

Karen Kirkham, chief medical officer for Deloitte, told the conference that demand continues to outstrip capacity, and that investment in traditional models of care will not meet rising pressures. This is a global phenomena, irrespective of funding models.

A commercial message might not land well within a social institution like the NHS. But it ultimately has the same need as US counterparts: to effectively manage increasing demand within a constrained resource environment without compromising patient safety.

Smart health tech needs to deliver on productivity if we are to see increased uptake in the UK. That might mean enabling earlier intervention, either within a hospital or a healthcare system, to reduce risks of complication, and prevent patients presenting with more severe and demanding conditions downstream.

It might mean investment in patient flow – again within hospitals and across settings. A recent flow deployment in Australia saw a 13% reduction in length of stay – solving problems for busy clinicians, for patients who want to be at home, and for stretched healthcare systems that can gain new intelligence on where they need to deflect pressures and improve support.

It might mean rethinking virtual care and remote monitoring, and remodelling pathways to improve our ability to manage risk in the community.

And it might also mean addressing common causes of inefficiency and patient safety concern. For example, technology has recently been launched to address a widespread systemic problem of volumes of patient results not being acknowledged – with implications for delayed care and ineffective use of billions of pounds worth of tests.

Creating the environment for smart healthcare

Creating the right conditions for success also means recognising that new approaches take time.

I’ve practised as a doctor for more than 20 years. I understand the tremendous value in just seeing patients: pattern recognition, observing them, witnessing behaviours from the moment they leave the waiting room.

In a new virtual care environment, we don’t have face-to-face collaborative conversations with patients to guide judgement. If we ask doctors to make decisions on remote monitoring data and patient reported surveys – that is significant change.

We design these approaches for good reason, but we cannot underestimate the transformation that goes alongside it. We need to make sure that we do not over focus on the technology, and leave people behind: both staff and citizens.

Expansion is more like gardening than blueprinting

Advancing from a sea of pilots to widespread mainstream adoption of smart tech is also about more than blueprinting.

Successful smart hospitals are not just a process to be transferred: a desire to cookie cut, to blueprint and scale, will fail unless we observe the true breadth of elements needed.

We need iterative approaches, and clinical leadership to articulate change and overcome bumps and challenges.

Effective technology adoption means listening to the problems of patients and of clinical teams, who might not be interested in the lofty ideals of smart healthcare.

For successful adoption, there is a need to observe, monitor and treat smart healthcare as a living programme. Just as different approaches to gardening work in one location but not another – in healthcare we are dealing with unique environments that must be understood.

Sustainable and Social Impact of Ethical Development

As the North West of the UK sees more regeneration and development, groups like Integritas Property Group (IPG) are offering a beacon of sustainable development in recently undeveloped cities; sharing a commitment to building communities that not only thrive in the present but also for generations to come, instilling a sense of confidence in the long-term sustainability of their projects.

The heart of ethical development lies in a process that ensures every aspect of its projects embodies sustainability, from conception to completion. Liverpool, a city currently undergoing significant development and redevelopment, is a prime example of how developers can contribute to the creation of thriving communities. Ethical developer Integritas Property Group, with several projects in the city, strategically integrates sustainability strategies into every phase of development. This approach, starting with the careful selection of project sites and active engagement with local stakeholders, fosters a sense of community ownership from the outset. Through comprehensive environmental impact assessments, developers can evaluate potential consequences, paving the way for informed decision-making.

For ethical developers, sustainable principles guide every decision, with a particular focus on building design. Residential buildings and renovation projects are all centred around sustainable design and construction, adhering closely to established guidelines. Energy efficiency is a top priority, with features such as insulation, triple-glazed windows, and LED lighting, all contributing to a reduced environmental impact of development. These features not only benefit the environment but also enhance comfort and affordability for residents, making sustainable living a reality.

The commitment to renewable energy is also high on the agenda. Integrated solar panels and heat pumps will be installed across properties to reduce the carbon footprint and future-proof the developments against rising energy costs. Unlike fossil fuels, which are subject to price fluctuations and geopolitical risks, renewable energy sources offer long-term price stability. Investing in renewable energy systems for new buildings can provide a hedge against future energy price volatility, offering predictability and financial stability over the building’s lifespan.

Sustainable building materials, of course, play a pivotal role in the projects, as a focus on low-carbon materials, sustainably sourced timber, and recycled metals lessens the environmental impact of such big projects and construction. By prioritising the use of more ethical materials, it can be ensured that these buildings promote not only environmental sustainability but also occupant health and well-being. Sustainable building materials are typically designed to be durable and long-lasting, with properties that resist degradation, rot, and pests. Investing in high-quality, durable materials can prolong the lifespan of the building, reduce maintenance requirements, and minimise the need for frequent replacements, saving both time and money in the long run.

Water management and conservation are equally important, with innovative strategies like rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling minimising consumption. Installing water-efficient fixtures helps empower residents to play an active role in conservation efforts, fostering a culture of sustainability within communities.  Compliance with these regulations is essential for avoiding penalties and legal liabilities. Implementing robust water management practices can help buildings meet regulatory requirements and demonstrate environmental responsibility.

The commitment to sustainability doesn’t end with new construction; developers are now also recognising the potential for impact in existing buildings, where thoughtful retrofitting can unlock significant energy and cost savings. Through comprehensive audits and tailored plans, new life can be breathed into older structures, bringing them in line with modern sustainability standards. This can be done with cutting-edge technology, such as improved insulation and window replacements to smart heating controls and renewable energy systems. If leveraging the latest innovations, building construction can maximise efficiency and minimise waste, ensuring that communities remain at the forefront of sustainability long into the future, providing a sense of reassurance and confidence in the long-term commitment to sustainable development.

The sociability impact can also be around supporting employment and the level of influence that a development has on a community. Based in Liverpool, Integritas Property Group, is committed to sourcing local workers and companies to work on these projects. This not only enhances the employability level of the area, giving locals employment for the duration of projects (which can range from one year to five years plus), but when creating many communities across a city, this is then creating a whole new employment pool for the area, offering local people ongoing work as more project and more communities under the brand develops.

An ethical approach to building and development is a great way to build new communities, and this can be defined by a commitment to sustainability and social impact. Whether this be from the careful selection of project sites, the integration of renewable energy, or the retrofitting of existing buildings. Through innovation, collaboration, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, projects like these are shaping communities and will continue to benefit areas for years to come.

Why project management training and software solutions are vital for local government

By Sophie Brown, Commercial Director of Flowlio

As a project-management training and software company, working within central and local government, social housing and with SMEs, we see organisations faced with similar challenges and having to deal with the same issues, again and again. These include a disjointed approach to delivering change and transformation projects, people working in silos and inconsistency in the way projects and new tech are introduced into everyday work.

In few sectors is this truer than in local government. With increasingly stringent regulatory standards, the recent council elections and a possible new national government just months away, the need for effective project delivery and change management is a top priority.

By following some key principles, investing in people and using strong software solutions, many common project-management challenges can be overcome. Projects can realise the true potential their creators had in mind for them, they can save time and money, boost staff engagement and efficiency, and deliver better outcomes for the public.

We have recently completed a huge piece of work for a local authority based in the North West, who were embarking on a Cloud- migration programme. Firstly, they engaged us to review the project. They then asked us to help design and support the implementation of a new target operating model. This involved the establishment of new ways of working and crucially setting up a PMO to support the delivery of the council’s strategic plan. We trained the team in project management fundamentals, sharing our knowledge and providing tools to ensure that future projects are delivered efficiently and result in the best outcomes for the council and the public. Our work with the council has been a very good example of how to establish excellent project-management practices in local government and other organisations.

An important place to start, for an overall idea of your ability to deliver projects, is an in-depth governance review. It’s important to look at issues such as the way projects are established, managed and closed out, as well as how staff communicate, ownership and accountability within projects, and measuring and realising the benefits and outcomes that are expected to be delivered.

It’s vital to look at your team’s skills to make sure they are able to not only work on a project, but implement the outcomes on an everyday basis. We look particularly at project managers’ skills and how they are able to communicate the aims and actions needed for a successful result. We also look at staff perception of projects, to make sure it aligns with senior leaders’ visions.

Our analysis of all these issues combines to give our clients a holistic view of whether their projects are achievable or in trouble.

It’s also crucial that there is a clear business case for doing a project, with a golden thread back to organisational objectives. This ensures alignment and makes sure time and resources are used effectively, not wasted, and that the project remains on a critical success path.

Organisations must always look for the points at which a new project may overlap with other pieces of work or affect existing processes. You should ensure that there is good engagement between key stakeholders and so that no one is left confused or disgruntled and economies of scale can be achieved.

One of the key problems we see, particularly when helping with a technology project, is that outside companies often have their own methodology and project managers and are very focused on simply installing a piece of tech or other solution in an organisation. What gets missed is engaging the workforce on the benefits of the new tech and training them to use it. It’s a mistake to simply get IT teams to sort out a project and the tech provider to deliver it, without much other joined-up company thinking. If the staff aren’t ready for it or fully onboard with it, it is likely to be a massive failure.

Another vital aspect of project management, that many organisations don’t fully get to grips with, is transitioning the project into business as usual. If a new project feels dumped onto employees, without careful and transparent integration, it creates chaos, duplication of effort, people not working as a team and pointing the finger at each other, when things go wrong. Suppliers, too, must be fully made aware of how a new way of working fits in with them.

Working with clients we can tie all the various factors together to make sure that any project has a high success factor within any public sector organisation.

After the implementation of the new target operating model for our council client, our training has equipped the team with the key tools needed to self-manage projects sufficiently going forward. These include stakeholder mapping tools, planning tools, budget trackers and risk and issues management tools.

Public sector organisations need to make sure that everyone involved in the delivery of projects is trained in a methodology, like Flowlio’s, so they don’t work in silos, overlapping and bumping up against others’ efforts and creating risk for an organisation and the people they employ and serve.

Flowlio’s Ofqual government-accredited training course and our new end-to-end SaaS solution give people an overview and visibility on projects, right across the board. There are no hiding places for people not performing or engaging with an initiative.

People must have the right tools to develop and implement projects. They need to be prepared for any potential changes in work methods. Giving staff the tools they need to deliver successful projects is vital, we’ve seen many projects fail due to inadequate systems and information not being available, poor audit trails and single points of failure. It’s important to get access to the right information, in one place, and have a high-level overview and a detailed view of project performance. Our SaaS solution provides just that and more, it’s an enterprise-wide solution with end-to-end workflow and alerting, enabling teams to deliver joined-up change projects.

Having the right tools and systems enable people to do things quickly, because they strip out bureaucracy. They help avoid mission creep and allow project teams to deliver and close projects effectively.  Our portfolio manager and performance dashboards provide visibility and transparency of project performance, helping senior leaders to make informed decisions, and Flowlio’s benefits recognition tool clearly shows senior leaders the worth of an initiative.

Project management can be a costly headache in large, complicated public sector bodies. But with software and training solutions from companies like Flowlio, it doesn’t have to be.

For more information about Flowlio’s project-management SaaS, training solutions visit www.flowlio.co.uk

Lincolnshire County Council streamlines both long and short-term highways maintenance with Confirm enquiry forms

Summary:

  1. Lincolnshire County Council (LLC) needed to improve and expedite its operational and financial highways management processes, from initial defect reporting through to completion confirmation of the final repair.
  2. Over five years, the council saved more than £1.5m after using Confirm to replace old office systems.
  3. The council also saved more than £3m of non-cash related savings due to improved efficiencies of its operations.
  4. The use of Confirm Connect enables highways inspectors’ maintenance teams to spend longer in the field, without returning to the office between jobs to complete paperwork.

Case study:

Highways Officers can allocate resources to each reported issue while having insight into ongoing and future projects.

Lincolnshire County Council has reported both time and resource savings when carrying out maintenance and repairs since adopting the new reporting system, from Brightly, a Siemens company.

Richard Fenwick

The enquiry form system, within Brightly’s Confirm asset management solution for local government, allows Highways Officers in Lincolnshire to address reports made by the public by creating forward planning briefs (FPB).

FPB lists are automatically updated in the system, which streamlines the resource management process and ensures that issues are resolved in a timely manner.

How it works

Members of the public in Lincolnshire are able to report road-related issues – for example, potholes, flooding or a fallen tree – to the council. Highways Officers in Lincolnshire County Council can then create FPBs to set up a job for each reported issue. FPBs enable job timeframes and budgets to be allocated to a job and the system issues task orders to contractors who will execute the repairs. FPBs also enable the council to efficiently store vast amounts of information about jobs in a centralised system, including where and when they are taking place, and the completion status.

Richard Fenwick, Head of Highways Asset Management at Lincolnshire County Council, explains: “When a job gets raised, we calculate target costs for our service team. When the job is completed, we can look back and compare the estimate against what it ended up costing.”

He adds that when a FPB has been set up, an action officer (for example, a Highways Officer) is assigned, and they can set and update the job status according to its progress.

Confirm’s enquiry form system allows jobs to be viewed and filtered according to their status, date, priority level and electoral division, and it provides a visual map view showing the location of upcoming projects. Job information, as well as the map, can be viewed by all users of the system within the council, for example, Highways Officers. It can be shared with teams within the council who are not linked to the highways management team, as well as external parties, such as contractors, thanks to Confirm’s capability to integrate with numerous other software such as Power BI.

New and improved approach

Lincolnshire County Council started using Confirm for its asset management in 2010 and a few years ago, it rolled out the FPB system to centralise information about ongoing and future jobs, as well as improving collaboration.

Fenwick explains: “Before we started using enquiry forms for our ongoing and future schemes, job information was stored in spreadsheets – typically one per team. This meant that within a certain area, the Programme Leader for carriageways, the Surfaces Treatments Manager and the Highways Manager would each have a spreadsheet of schemes. If a local manager wanted to know what was happening in that area, they would have to ask and review each of those spreadsheets.”

The new approach, he says, is more efficient and consistent, saving the council more than £1.5m over five years.

It ensures that only one job per issue is reported, rather than duplicates. For example, if a pothole is reported and an FPB is created for it, officers and contractors will see it in the system and will be aware that it’s being resolved.

“The more areas using one source of truth, the better,” says Fenwick.

Efficiency first

The new system hugely saves on time, because officers and/or contractors in the field can view and update jobs on-site – with a phone or tablet, for example – and seamlessly move between jobs, rather than having to report to an office after each one to update relevant paperwork. The map view also enhances the logistics of repairs by enabling jobs to be addressed in order, based on proximity. For example, pot holes can be repaired from East to West of a route, rather than in no particular order.

Fenwick says: “We’ve had examples of people reporting a pothole in the morning and it’s been repaired before the end of the day. In cases like that, a Highways Officer was working in close proximity to the reported issue; they’ve been instantly notified of it and have been able to take care of it later that day.”

Fenwick says a key benefit of Confirm is its capability to be tailored to meet the needs of Lincolnshire County Council’s highways management team. Indeed, this particular system was purpose-built to enable better monitoring of current and future jobs, as well as related resource planning, yet other local authorities in the UK are using the software differently.

Fenwick says: “It’s a tool that is flexible enough to be shaped around the needs of us and our contractors. It’s a comprehensive, data-driven solution with a user-friendly interface that enables information to be viewed and extracted easily.”

Looking forward, Lincolnshire County Council is working with Brightly to enhance the system by enabling it to show logged jobs as far three years in advance. This will enable Highways Officers to better manage their resources – including budgets – across longer time periods.

Ultimately, by continuing to respond to reports in a timely and cost-efficient manner, Lincolnshire County Council is further improving the public’s trust in its capabilities, while a facilitating safe, thriving community.

Do you want to revolutionise your asset management? Click here to learn more 

OggaDoon shares success from work with MOD and Logiq Consulting on the Secure by Design launch

OggaDoon, the leading Bristol-based PR agency, has shared highlights from their time working with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Logiq Consulting where they provided marketing and PR services to launch Secure by Design, UK Defence’s new approach to cyber security risk management. The collaboration saw OggaDoon research and produce a complex marketing and communications strategy to initiate cultural and behavioural change. This was followed through execution across the MOD generating substantial awareness and recognition and recall of Secure by Design, as project teams and leads adopted the new approach to reduce cyber vulnerabilities and increase resilience to attacks.

Secure by Design in Defence is the latest element in the UK Government’s adoption of early cyber risk identification and protection across its departments. For UK Defence and its supply chain, this heralds a purposeful shift from accreditation to ongoing self-assessment, moving cyber risk management into daily habitual activity. Secure by Design in Health, Secure by Design in Consumer Connectable Products and Secure by Design in the Cabinet Office are Government-led programmes that build towards a cyber-secure future for the UK.

OggaDoon was appointed in early 2022 to build a marketing programme that would reach people across all levels by utilising a multi-channel, multi-layered approach using shared key messages adapted to segmented audiences. With the MOD being a complex organisation with many levels and a myriad of stakeholders, information needed to be clear in catering to both military and civilian personnel to deliver awareness of this transformational shift in the organisation’s approach to cyber security.

Running alongside the development of the Secure by Design process, tooling and governance led by Logiq Consulting, the marketing communications plan was curated with audience engagement, research and testing over 15 months before the launch in July 2023. The launch and subsequent campaign combined strong, persistent internal communications and marketing, with external PR and media coverage as well as third-party event participation.

Internal to the MOD’s large headcount, OggaDoon, supported by Logiq Consulting, delivered regular communications including Lunch and Learns, Defnet articles, Secure by Design portal content, and weekly and monthly newsletter contributions. These were augmented with Defnet blogs, Town Hall sessions, an MOD-wide All Hands briefing, an All Questions session, an episode for the Cyber Confident podcast, 5+ case studies, 5+ fact sheets, 12+ articles for internal magazines/platforms, participation in internal cyber and security days, and a MODNET splash screen amongst other activities. OggaDoon was instructive in the inception of the Secure by Design portal (produced by Logiq Consulting). The Bristol PR firm also created the Secure by Design Working Comms Group which brought together communication leads from across the Frontline Commands and Top Level Budget holders.

Caroline Macdonald, CEO of OggaDoon, said:

“We used our experience of working with complex organisational structures to deliver effective marketing and communications for the launch of Secure by Design. It was a complicated process, keeping in mind the multiple organisations within the MOD and the sheer number of people employed.

“Following the initial launch, we continued to maintain the concentrated awareness marketing as we progressed throughout the organisation. At the same time, we started to deliver specific messaging about the finer details of Secure by Design, while adapting our content to suit the type of audience groups we were targeting.

“It’s been fantastic to see MOD teams and the UK Defence supply chain across all levels embrace this dynamic change. For over 15 years, we have helped public sector organisations and primes to implement change management using effective marketing and communications that connect with their intended audiences. Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task, yet it is achievable with good planning and steady execution.”

Following the official launch in 2023 for all new projects, Secure by Design is now embedded into the organisation with the transition ongoing until 2026. As of March 2024, over 200 projects have registered and started this adoption. The MOD is recognised for Secure by Design by the supply chain and other public sector departments as leading the way. 1,500 people attended the Lunch and Learn sessions to learn more about Secure by Design principles. In terms of PR, the content generated 20 articles, equating to 1,000,000 total monthly unique users. Now, it is part of the discussion with everyone talking about it.

Learn more about OggaDoon’s change management solutions here: oggadoon.co.uk/change-management/