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Tri-borough and BT to collaborate in £200m London ICT framework

David Bicknell Published 13 June 2016

Agreement covering range of ICT products and services will be open to public sector users across London, with health sector organisations a key target


The London tri-borough and BT will announce today that BT has been chosen as the sole supplier to provide a comprehensive range of ICT services and products under a pan-London public sector procurement framework agreement worth up to £200m.

The framework is the latest of four frameworks set up by the tri-borough, which comprises the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster City Council.

The framework will be open to local government across all 33 London boroughs, and can be used by other public sector bodies in the capital including the NHS, schools, the Metropolitan and City Police forces, Transport for London (TfL), social landlords and other organisations, including waste authorities.

BT will be the sole supplier - it has a similar position with two other tri-borough frameworks - with potential customers being able to choose from an extensive range of BT products and services including local and wide area networking, cloud services, fixed and mobile telephony, unified communications and conferencing.

The deal will see two of public sector ICT's highly regarded local government chief information officer (CIO) minds working closely together. Ed Garcez, the tri-borough's CIO and Tom Baker, Business Development Director - Smart and Healthier Cities at BT Global Services, and former CIO at Norfolk and Sunderland, were speakers at an event announcing the agreement to potential London public sector customers last week, including London boroughs, a number of NHS trusts, the London Ambulance Service, and at least one London university.

Both Garcez and Baker agree that getting health organisations to start using the framework will be critical to its success.

"As CIOs, we're starting to tackle is this issue of how we integrate with other sectors, and notably how we work with health," said Garcez. "The recent-ish inclusion of public health within the responsibilities of the local authority is a good example, where as that process started, the barrier to sharing was technology. It's great to be in a place where the barrier to sharing is not technology, it's process, or procedure or mindset. And that's where we increasingly are. And I think these frameworks allow us to extend that reach even wider.

"It would be absolutely fantastic if a health body signed up through the framework because it would allow us to really start demonstrating how this can be more than simply doing stuff within an organisation but actually about doing stuff across organisations. And that's the second layer, if you like, where it becomes genuinely transformative. It stops being about Hammersmith, or Kensington, or Westminster, or this or that health trust and starts being about the recipient of the services that those organisations deliver."

Baker agreed. "There is a huge role for CIOs in the NHS to really start to take a lead on some of these agendas. From a personal perspective, having been in Norfolk, getting teams of social workers to work in a particular hospital ward to discharge whatever they needed to do or bring an integrated team together in a particular locality based around a GP surgery is hugely time consuming and hugely frustrating.

"If you're talking to practitioners it's one of those really basic things, just being able to access a particular record on a particular system that might be hosted in somebody else's network. Those are the really big things that they want to see brought into being. And the sort of framework that Ed's gone out and procured, it's fantastic in many ways.

"One, because of the breadth of those services. Then because of the catalogue that's contained within. You've got ultimate flexibility for multiple agencies to buy from. I think as we progress over the next 12-24 months there is going to be a profound shift in something that we've talked about for years, in terms of integrated public sector working having to manifest itself. Now unless we can think about integrating services, delivering in a different way and intervening, which is the role of local government, then we're not going to make those changes to people's behaviours and their general well-being needed to move services to a position where they are sustainable."

Late last year BT won a £7.4m, five-year contract with NHS Islington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to join up the IT systems used by around 10,000 health and social care professionals in the borough.

The contract will underpin the development of a single integrated digital health record for each of the borough's 206,000 residents, giving them secure access to their own electronic personal health record.

The tri-borough-BT deal is the latest evidence that the use and importance of public sector framework agreements is increasing. Their use is aimed at saving time and money by making the buying process less complex, and helping to reduce time-consuming and expensive administration and speed up the delivery of public sector ICT projects.

Garcez also believes, critically, that the BT framework will help share learning.

"We could have called off G-Cloud. We also had the opportunity to go down individual procurements through each of the tri-borough councils. But each one of these large procurements is a really, really expensive exercise and takes a huge amount of emotional energy and effort.

"I think that this framework takes us all forwards. It allows authorities to buy better stuff, at lower cost. And I think it allows suppliers to sell better stuff at lower cost. You then end up with the unexpected benefit which is that ecosystem of people who can share learning.

"We all try and do that. There's the London CIO council, there's a whole load of fora where we share knowledge. But it's actually never quite as grounded as it is if you're all trying to do the same thing with telephony or networks or desktops. And actually, that's been a real plus for us, working with other organisations in the same space, with the same solutions, with the same problems. We can genuinely start to understand there's a more shared way to share the learning, share the benefits.

"If you'd asked me three years ago what I thought the biggest benefit would be, it would be that we're buying once, not three times. We're saving ourselves two big procurement exercises. Now, if you ask me today, it's the fact that we're able to share learning much more effectively than we were three years ago."

Colm O'Neill, managing director, major and public sector, BT, said: "This new framework represents an innovative approach to procurement, making it simpler, faster and more cost-effective for public sector organisations in the capital to buy the latest cutting-edge ICT services. We see this very much as a partnership with the organisations involved and they'll be able to play a part in shaping the future direction of travel of the framework and the products available on it.

"BT was successful in a highly competitive process against other major communication companies. We're delighted to have the chance to work with such an interesting and diverse set of public sector organisations ranging from schools, NHS Trusts, police forces and social landlords, among others, to bring them a wide range of ICT services to support pan-London collaboration."

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