Arden & GEM’s IT service quickly mobilised a bespoke programme of work to ensure that its staff and clients had the infrastructure, equipment and support available for mass home working as part of the nationwide response to limit the spread of coronavirus.
In mid-March, Government guidance required that all employees should begin working from home, wherever possible. For this to happen in a safe and secure manner, IT departments across the country needed to ensure that the appropriate network infrastructure was in place and that staff had the necessary equipment.
As well as supporting over 900 employees, the IT service at Arden & GEM also works with a number of healthcare clients including primary care, secondary care and CCGs. The CSU had taken early steps to set up a COVID-19 response team comprising representatives from each of the service’s operational areas including infrastructure, security, device management and service desk.
This team was responsible for delivering a bespoke programme of work to ensure that home working solutions were mobilised as quickly as possible, with clinical need prioritised. The programme’s first task was to increase remote access capacity so that users could continue to access the systems, resources and files they needed as part of their roles. This was achieved through reprioritising the existing system and bringing a new solution on board. This work enabled 5,000 additional concurrent connections across Derbyshire, Lincoln, Milton Keynes and Norfolk.
With a secure and comprehensive remote access solution in place, our team turned its attention to ensuring users had the equipment and tools they needed to effectively do their jobs. This included:
- Building and deploying over 2,000 new devices, and delivering these to users where necessary
- Developing a new image and support system for new laptop models
- Implementing a new system to ensure that devices no longer being connected within an office environment could receive the software and security ‘patches’ needed to keep them reliable and safe
- Putting a mobile printing solution in place for GPs needing to generate prescriptions
- Deploying Microsoft Teams to all users to support communication and collaboration.
To support NHS professionals to use their equipment and tools as effectively as possible, new user guidance documents were produced covering topics from assembling your new laptop to setting up NHS mail on mobile phones. While service desk capacity was expanded, including weekends, by retraining and redeploying existing IT service staff.
“I’d like to thank our team members for their tireless efforts in making this happen and all of our users for their support and appreciation as we have put these solutions in place. As a consequence of this rapid programme of work, thousands more devices are able to remotely and safely connect to clinical and corporate systems, allowing NHS staff to continue their vital work.”
Nigel Cullumbine, IT Director at Arden & GEM