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DH seeks ambulance mobilisation services in £14.4m deal as ESN looms

David Bicknell Published 05 December 2016

Tender covers plans to roll out integrated control room and mobile data vehicle solution for NHS ambulance services, including potentially Wales and Scotland


The Department of Health has issued a tender for an ambulance mobilisation application and associated services including an integrated control room and mobile data vehicle solution as part of the mobile data and vehicle solution programme (MDVS) and ambulance radio programme (ARP).

The contract has an estimated value of £14.4m for the mobilisation services, broadly dubbed ’MP1’ ,which is part of plans to roll out and deliver the control room and mobile solution for the NHS Ambulance service nationally in England, and potentially, the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the Scottish Ambulance Service Board.

Behind the tender is the shadow of the impending Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP).

The background to the contract is that the existing mobile data and devices provision was procured by the ARP as a fully managed service, with the contract awarded to Airwave Solutions in 2005. Whilst the live service period for each of the ambulance trusts was fixed, the original implementation was phased. So ARP services are due to cease in each of the trust areas over an extended period, starting in 2017 and ending in 2020.

Over the next three years, ESMCP has been established with the remit of delivering the future national mobile communication capabilities for all emergency services, a network dubbed the Emergency Services Network (ESN)

But the scope of ESMCP does not include all elements currently covered under the ARP contract. So certain services, including MDVS and control room solutions (CRS) have to be procured separately.

All English and Welsh ambulance trusts currently use ‘mobile data’ as the primary means to send incident or job details to their responding resources. These resources currently include accident and emergency (A&E) ambulances, officer cars, and rapid response cars. This is likely to be extended to include community responders, and other allied health care workers employed to respond to incidents.

Currently, mobilisation messages are received on a mobile data terminal or a radio terminal and the responder communicates back to the control room in the form of status messages. The mobilisation application is also used for local tracking of resources and for navigation.

The new ESN will introduce broadband data enabling trusts to transmit a wider range of information to wider health professionals. So the next generation of mobilisation application will need to interface to future initiatives such as tele-medicine, video consultation or remote diagnostic equipment.

Contracting authorities are anticipated to transition to the ESN on a regional basis commencing in 2017 and ending at the end of 2019, so the MDVS programme will have to follow the timescales of ESN delivery to ensure critical communications are maintained.

The current ARP contract is set to expire on December 31 2019 and a new solution is necessary for each ambulance trust before the contract expiry date, with the roll-out for each trust completed by this expiry date.

The Ambulance Radio Programme’s proposed rollout plan for the Control Room Solutions (CRS) programme as well as the trust fleet migration onto the new ESN MDVS programme, starts in the North West, followed by the East Midlands, the Isle of Wight, London, and the North East, with the rollout concluding in the South West and Wales late in 2019.


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