HSCN: The future of N3

After 10 years, the N3 Network will be changing in March 2017. Preparations for its replacement, HSCN (Health and Social Care Network) are currently underway, with ambitious timescales being set for the project. Successor services are scheduled to be in place during the course of 2016/17. The services are likely to involve commercial aggregators such as OLM’s Hytec division, moving those that require access to the NHS network onto their circuits until HSCN is launched.

The move away from N3 and towards HSCN, is led by The Department of Health and NHS England.  It aims to establish a standards-based approach to network services. This new approach will increase the levels of interoperability between health and social care organisations. Resulting from this will be increased competition within the marketplace for the supply and consumption of network services.

What does this mean for my organisation?

What this means in the short term is that nothing will change but over the course of the next year you will be slowly moved over to an aggregator and be temporarily placed on their circuit. Our specialist integration team, Hytec, is a commercial aggregator and will be one of a handful in the UK that will be able to provide this service. Any new customers will be placed with an aggregator until the new network is in place.

We are working directly with NHS Digital to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. Details on the precise timings for the switchover between aggregation and implementation are not yet available. This is due to the size of the network and complexity of moving more than 55,000 connections over to the new service. The network supports more than one million users .

Once more information is available we will list it on our website and distribute it to current N3 customers. We will let all service users know the process that will be in place during the changeover and advise them as to any steps that need to occur on their side.

What is a “Commercial Aggregator”

A Commercial Aggregator is defined as an organisation that can provide N3 connectivity to organisations using shared infrastructure. Aggregators providing connections are expected to have additional security procedures in place. The Information Governance Statement of Compliance (IGSoC) has been highlighted as an area that needs to be enhanced in order to include additional requirements for organisations wishing to provide aggregated N3 connectivity to their customers.

It is expected that with the switchover to HSCN, the IGSoC process will be updated to take into account the role of aggregators. For additional information relating to the spectrum of services that Hytec are able to provide to your organisation, please contact us today.