Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) spans Suffolk and Norfolk, providing a broad range of health and social care services, with a particular emphasis on providing specialist mental healthcare.
MLL Telecom was chosen to provide a unified network solution that could replace the old WAN infrastructure and migrate NSFT’s services onto an HSCN-accredited network. MLL Telecom was awarded the contract based on its existing reputation with Suffolk County Council.
Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) spans Suffolk and Norfolk, providing a broad range of health and social care services, with a particular emphasis on providing specialist mental healthcare. The Trust was formed following the merger of Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust with Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust in January 2012. NSFT has one of the largest geographical footprints in the United Kingdom and is made up of more than 50 sites, employing approximately 4,000 staff and treating 25,000 patients every month.
The 2012 merger of the two Suffolk and Norfolk Trusts presented a number of challenges for NSFT. Each Trust was served by two existing networks, both of which were unable to meet the demands of NSFT staff and patients. Several connections offered lower bandwidth (with some sites receiving as little as 10mbps), lacked resilience and could not guarantee quality of service (QoS). NSFT was also regularly faced with loss of circuit, resulting in site connections going down, sometimes as often as one circuit a month. These outages significantly affected staff members, who were unable to access the Trust’s intranet services and critical patient information. In addition to this, the multi-vendor infrastructure meant there was a lack of standardisation across the networks, thus making the overall network extremely difficult to manage.
To ensure a reliable and robust network connection, NSFT needed to make changes to its provision of network services. NSFT particularly identified the need to improve performance across the Norfolk and Suffolk region, and replace the outdated Wide Area Network (WAN) provided by Norfolk’s incumbent provider. The arrival of the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) presented an opportunity for NSFT to upgrade and improve its existing network architecture to address the pain points felt across its sites. This new network would bring increased bandwidth, greater resilience, reliability and agility for future estate changes throughout Norfolk and Suffolk.
NSFT entered a competitive procurement process in November 2017, and in December 2017, MLL Telecom was awarded the contract as NSFT’S HSCN network solution supplier. MLL Telecom was chosen to provide a unified network solution that could replace the old WAN infrastructure, and migrate NSFT’s services onto a HSCN-accredited network. MLL Telecom was awarded the contract based on its existing reputation with Suffolk County Council, having previously supplied network solutions for the council’s sites, as well as its ability to compete on price and provide a personalised and bespoke service, that extended beyond that traditionally delivered by large incumbents.
The entire project ran from January to December 2018. Through its migration to a HSCN network solution, NSFT has benefited in a number of ways.
Bandwidth speeds have increased across all sites, going from 10mpbs, to up to 100mbps at some sites. This has removed performance bottlenecks, and reduced latency across the network. The increased bandwidth has significantly improved overall network capacity, with an almost 300% increase in network usage at some sites. The increased capacity and bandwidth has enabled greater simultaneous access to shared clinical information. It has also allowed NSFT to improve internal staff communication, by enabling NSFT staff to deliver executive broadcasts via Skype for Business to sites across the region. NSFT has also been able to reduce cost on telephony; the increased bandwidth and network capacity has made it possible for the Trust to move a large part of its telephony service from ISDN to SIP, whereby calls can be made via the internet connection, thus reducing the cost incurred by traditional call charges.
In addition to this, MLL Telecom and NSFT’s decision to implement a secondary circuit across all sites has greatly improved reliability across the network and improved confidence in NSFT’s ability to access the necessary services, even at times where the primary circuit is unavailable. Since MLL Telecom’s appointment, NSFT hasn’t suffered a single network outage due to a circuit issue.
While the new network solution has already brought significant benefits for NSFT, MLL Telecom has also been instrumental in helping NSFT future-proof its network, allowing for further infrastructure development and additions.
“When we went to tender in 2017, NSFT desperately needed a new network solution,” said Dave Jones, ICT Infrastructure Manager, NSFT. “We needed to remove bottlenecks and significantly increase capacity and bandwidth to allow our staff constant access to the services they need to deliver good quality of care. MLL Telecom’s network solution has demonstrated just how valuable good network connectivity is in improving the overall efficiency of our day-to-day operations. Our migration to HSCN has brought untold benefits to our Trust, and perhaps most importantly, our staff now trust in the network and in their ability to access the information they need to deliver outstanding patient care today, and tomorrow.”
“One of the key things that went well in the project was working with MLL Telecom. The ability to have access to various people/roles at all times throughout the project, coupled with their responsiveness and proactive handling of items discussed has been invaluable. Especially in the midst of the busiest periods when time is precious and many things compete for attention, it really helps to have confidence in one conversation, knowing that you don’t have to chase. My experience with MLL is a culture of honesty, transparency, real collaboration, people having your back and being prepared to go the extra mile to bring things to resolution.” Milena Bilcheva, ICT Project Manager, NSFT.