NHS Looks To Redifine Contract With Microsoft

Earlier this week Microsoft terminated it Enterprise wide agreement with the NHS. The NHS is a major consumer of IT resources and all systems of NHS work and network on the NHS platform. Hence the termination of the EwA  with Microsoft is likely to have ramification for all NHS trusts.

What Does It Exactly Mean To The End User?

Licences for Microsoft software were purchased out of central contracts and distributed to various regional NHS trusts. With the termination of the EwA agreement, the ownership of the software will now pass into the hands of trusts themselves.

This will be done on the basis of a survey Microsoft had conducted earlier. NHS trusts will now have to buy Software Assurance, which will guarantee them access to security updates, upgrades and support. This is because the EwA agreement does not have any clause for perpetual support.

Trusts will also have to source Microsoft software from authorised Microsoft dealers in future.

How will it affect the functioning of NHS?

The fallout of this measure on the functioning of NHS trusts is not clearly known. NHS officials claim that they have sufficient perpetual licences for Office Professional Plus 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, System Centre Configuration Manager 2007 R2, Windows Professional Upgrade (on devices with a suitable operating system license), SQL Server 2008 R” and Forefront Unified Access Gateway.

Although this decision may not have any effect on the day to day functioning of the NHS, it will have an effect on the finances of the trusts. Trusts will now be forced to buy software from the local market, instead of the centralised procurement earlier. It is bound to make it expensive for them. Apart from this the nationally held licences will be turned over to the trusts on the basis of a survey by Microsoft. But the problem here is that trusts don not have concrete figures on ownership of computer systems and software. So it will be chaotic to implement this in the initial stages.

How will it affect NHS employees?

NHS employees were able to take advantage of the home user program of the EwA to install Microsoft Office on their personal systems at home. But with the termination of the EwA they will no longer be able to use their software and it will come as a severe disappointment to them. It is not clearly known as to how many staff will be affected, but NHS insiders say that majority of NHS employees have used this feature and it is likely to hit them hard.

What will it mean to you the patient?

You are unlikely to be affected by this termination. As mentioned earlier the termination of EwA agreement will only lead to an increase in administrative costs for trusts. It should not have any effect on the patient care or waiting lists.

To conclude The NHS is a very lucrative market for IT industry. This decision provides local NHS trusts to cut costs by eliminating useless software components and also by negotiating the best rates from local suppliers. The initial few months will be difficult but given the right push it can goa long way in saving costs.

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