NHS England - Transformation Directorate

NHSX funding strengthens data management system in Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health and community services across Northamptonshire. The Trust provides more than 100 services including mental health, community nursing, sexual health, physiotherapy and a range of other specialty services.

In 2021, the trust was awarded £80k through the NHSX cyber security capital funding programme.

The existing technology and legacy backups and data management systems required modernisation to ensure better cyber resilience and quicker recovery in the event of a ransomware attack.

An updated cloud data management solution would provide a more reliable backup, with increased visibility of affected systems and disaster recovery across multiple data centres and clouds, with off-site replications to access the data.

What was the solution?

The trust implemented two solutions - a cloud data management platform and a storage area network (SAN).

Cloud data management platform

The cloud data management platform delivers data protection, search, analytics, and copy data management to hybrid cloud enterprises. This is designed for the organisational needs, specifically for ransomware, backups, data loss prevention, and threat analysis impact assessments, with resilience built into the hardware. The off-site backups solution also exceeds compliance with National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) audit requirements.

Storage area network (SAN)

The storage area network (SAN) provides and manages storage with improved accessibility. In addition, it facilitates fit for purpose enhanced security, efficiency and resilience whilst increasing future development opportunities with cloud integration at the forefront.

What were the challenges?

The trust was awarded £80k from NHSX capital funding, which provided partial funding towards the agreed solutions, with the remainder provided from the trust’s internal capital allocations.

For cloud replication to operate effectively and efficiently, one of the challenges the trust faced was aligning the involvement of multiple third-party suppliers to resolve the existing, limited internet bandwidth.

The solutions have been partially implemented due to COVID-19 priorities and current IT environmental complexities. It is anticipated the rollout will be completed by autumn 2021, when the full benefits will be realised.

What were the results?

Once the full rollout is complete, the trust is confident that the new automated data protection and backup solution will meet the aim to improve cyber resilience and benefits will be realised for the organisation, its patients and staff.

What were the learning points?

There has been significant learning around the cloud backup technology has been derived, such as the lessons identified around the trust's old technology. NHFT acknowledges that, whilst it proved adequate at the time, the backup infrastructure had to be modernised and refreshed due to its age and capability. This will ensure a more robust cyber posture, therefore increasing the detection of ransomware attacks and minimising the loss of confidential patient and staff data.

Next steps

The trust has purchased a small amount of resilience capability but will review this if expansion is required. They are seeking to maximise investment, information management and cyber security, using the cloud data management functionality. There are likely to be more benefits realised when the solution is fully implemented.