Leeds-based Spine digital system is backbone of NHS

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They are the unsung heroes of Leeds’s thriving digital and tech sector.

Tucked away in an office in Leeds city centre, around 125 NHS Digital staff are responsible for running Spine – a system that handles more than 400 million electronic messages a month.

The messages are sent between thousands of care organisations, ranging from large urban hospitals like Leeds General Infirmary to small GP surgeries in remote rural areas.

More than 300,000 NHS workers use the system every day for patient care tasks such as dispensing prescriptions and booking hospital appointments.

It also lets health professionals view summary care records – copies of key clinical information about patients – at a rate of one every nine seconds.

Spine’s smooth running is deemed so important to the country that it is on the government’s critical national infrastructure list.

And this week Digital City was given a rare glimpse behind the scenes of an operation that has suffered no down-time since launching two years ago.

It is also estimated to have saved the NHS more than £40m compared to the previous system that was in place.

An 89 per cent reduction in response times since Spine’s introduction is also saving the health service 750 hours per day.

Team head Andrew Meyer told Digital City: “I would imagine the vast majority of Leeds residents don’t realise their home city is central to keeping the health service’s national IT infrastructure running around the clock.

“Given the size of our organisation it is quite likely many people have a neighbour, friend or relative that works for NHS Digital.

“Given the size of the health service many more will rely on one of our services.

“Our team feels an immense sense of responsibility and pride in what we are doing.

“We are pleased to have saved the NHS millions by bringing the system in-house and working with other Leeds businesses to make the service even better.”

NHS Digital, which has a graduate scheme and is currently recruiting, is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system and has four offices in Leeds city centre.

Formerly known as the Health and Social Care Information Centre, its team of information analysis and technology experts deliver and manage digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals across the country depend.

The YEP recently launched a new Digital City platform in partnership with Sky Betting & Gaming.

The platform is designed to highlight the giant strides being made by a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds.

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