NCL CCG is a clinically-led and member-driven CCG with 201 GP practices across North Central London commissioning health and care services for residents in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington. The fundamental difference with a CCG is that they are led by clinicians. For patients, this means that doctors will be heavily involved in ensuring the appropriate provision of local health services and will work more collaboratively with other organisations in making decisions about health.

Commissioning health services involves:

  • Understanding the health needs of the population
  • Designing and redesigning services
  • Buying the services
  • Measuring the impact of services

 

 

The challenge NCL faced

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally impacted working lives across the UK.

This means that, like everyone else, GPs and Healthcare workers needed the flexibility to work remotely. This requirement for remote working would be new for many and a large proportion of workers would not have secure pre-existing workspaces that enabled wider NHS network connectivity.

As physical computer equipment is slow to procure and deploy, an alternative solution was required for NCL using a modern solution to help ensure their 4,500 staff-members could continue providing support for those in need.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) was chosen as a way to meet the high numbers of staff and in order to rapidly deliver the solution at this scale it was deemed that public cloud was the best option.

The solution Carelink provided

To meet the needs of NCL, Carelink designed and deployed a Window’s Virtual Desktop solution.

Windows Virtual Desktop provided NCL with a connected, secure and scalable desktop environment which utilised the latest Windows Desktop operating system. NCL staff could then securely access critical NHS applications and HSCN services from any device that met the defined security measures. Ultimately, this allowed NCL staff to continue supporting patients and vulnerable people through the pandemic.

Flexible and scalable: the value Windows Virtual Desktop provides

The Windows Virtual Desktop solution benefits NCL in many ways, including:

  • Provisioning new user dedicated desktops – deploy at speed with desktops provisioned in minutes.
  • Provisioning new users quickly and easily – it’s as simple as assigning permissions to a user and allowing them to log into the environment.
  • Running single and multiple sessions to single virtual machines – this provides licensing cost benefits while also minimising infrastructure running costs by leveraging economies of scale.
  • Leveraging existing security measures – Integration with cloud based identity services, which include features like multi-factor authentication, conditional access and role-based access control. Allowing granular access to resources while ensuring security policies are enforced.
  • Creating user specific desktop ‘images’ – Bespoke desktops created for groups of users, that provide users with specific NHS applications applicable to their role. With applications enabled dynamically based on user group membership and capacity scaled with a consistent user experience.

With support from Carelink Managed Services, NCL continue to enhance the solution to further improve their staff’s remote working experience. Not only that, NCL plan to expand the Windows Virtual Desktop solution more widely in the future to enable additional features and capabilities for a larger portion of their staff.

Mehmet Erhan, NLP Technical Lead for Digital, said of the experience:

“At the initial height of the Covid-19 Pandemic in March 2020, we approached Carelink to collaboratively explore the possibility of provisioning a new ‘Windows Virtual Desktop’ environment as we all had to drastically change the way we work rather abruptly.

I felt that there was a real sense of comradery working together on this project and within two weeks of having our initial exploratory conversation, we had a scalable WVD environment which was leveraging multi-factor authentication and conditional access providing our health and care professionals with a device agnostic safe and secure platform enabling users to access core clinical systems and applications on demand without any barriers.

This platform also meant that we no longer needed to procure, configure, and deploy new corporate devices at pace and scale which is simply amazing upon reflection.

User feedback has been extremely positive also and the WVDs are a genuine game changer for our users. We have since been working on enhancing and further developing the environment as I believe that we have only just scratched the surface and there is a lot of potential to innovate further which is exciting.”

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