Capita wins contract to boost NHS connectivity in Essex

08 November 2018 4 min. read

Professional services firm Capita has won an NHS connectivity contract worth more than £5 million to help the Essex NHS Trust over the following five years. The deal will cover 400 sites, including hospitals, clinics and GP practices, and has been handed Capita despite the firm facing mounting criticism for its role in outsourced services in the region.

As the institution faces unprecedented demand from the challenges presented by an ageing population, and state spending on the health system remains limited, the NHS is at a cross-roads in its existence. According to its Five Year Forward View plan, the NHS acknowledges that changes are needed to adapt to this new environment, and technological change is key to that process. This is something which has seen a boom in consulting spending by the institution in recent years.

Amid this environment, Capita has been awarded a five-year contract worth £5.7 million with Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT). The deal will see EPUT move to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), a new data network designed to replace the NHS' legacy N3 model. Covering more than 400 EPUT sites, which includes hospitals, GP surgeries and NHS clinics, Capita has issued a statement on the news claiming it will provide the NHS wing with increased bandwidth, along with efficient access to the internet and N3's legacy applications.

Capita wins contract to boost NHS connectivity in Essex

Mark Madden, CFO at EPUT, commented on the deal, which is the largest HSCN contract to date, "We need a reliable and robust connectivity solution to deliver enhanced connectivity. We are confident that this implementation will enhance the user-experience for our employees and enable greater interaction and sharing of resources between our sites in the Essex region."

Joe Hemming, executive director at Capita IT and networks, added, "Capita is an experienced provider of IT networks and this contract further reinforces our strategy. We look forward to using our technology capabilities to add value and efficiencies for NHS sites across the region."

The contract was awarded despite a growing body of criticism levelled at Capita in 2018. Earlier in the year, the UK Government was accused of “rewarding failure” for increasing its payout to Capita for its work as an outsourcing provider for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments. While PIP assessments make a significant impact on the ability of disabled claimants to live comfortably, but Capita was pilloried by UK Parliament for having failed repeatedly to meet standards for the assessments its employees carried out.

In Essex, meanwhile, Capita was forced to withdraw its sponsorship of this year’s Social Worker of the Year Awards after a nominee and a judge protested against its involvement. Capita carries out resourcing and recruitment functions for the East of England authority, and had been listed as the sponsor of the ‘Championing Social Work Values’ award category, in partnership with Essex council. The charity Social Workers Without Borders, which was shortlisted this year, and Nick Berbiers, who was on the judging panel, both declared they would boycott the event if this did not change, however.

A statement by Social Workers Without Borders, which works to support asylum-seekers and refugees, alleged that Capita is having a negative impact on social work values in the UK. The statement explained, “[It] is instrumental in dismantling our public services and in creating a hostile environment for migrant and non-migrant individuals and families alike.”

Related: EY releases 6-step response to cyber-attacks following shock NHS hack.