COVID-19 & Microsoft Teams in NHS Scotland

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Paul Campbell is the Clinical Director for eHealth at NHS National Services Scotland, and is the Honorary Secretary and a Council member at the Faculty of Clinical Informatics.

In the current COVID-19 crisis, Paul has been involved in the rapid deployment of Microsoft Teams in NHS Scotland to over 160,000 staff over a couple of weeks. Read his blog below.

Dear FCI Colleagues,

We are all well aware of the significant challenges being faced globally with the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The NHS is already managing the initial impact of this across all 4 of the UK Nations, and continues with further preparation and planning to address the predicted larger demand to come.

This unprecedented event, combined with a ‘lockdown’ of the UK, has led to an unparalleled ‘opening up’ of digital communications to help the NHS save lives.

The primary tool that is being used for this is Microsoft’s Teams product (https://products.office.com/en-gb/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software). This chat / video based communication and collaboration tool is already part of the programmed rollout of Office 365 across NHS Scotland, alongside similar rollouts in NHS England, Northern Ireland and Wales. On 5th March, in response to COVID-19, Microsoft made Teams available globally, for free, to business and personal customers (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/03/05/our-commitment-to-customers-during-covid-19/).

In NHS Scotland, this has led to the rapid provision of Microsoft Teams to over 160,000 staff in the space of a couple of weeks. The collective National, Territorial and Programme eHealth teams have done an amazing job in pulling all this together in such a short space of time. It’s been a privilege to be part of this team. I would imagine the same is true throughout all the UK nations, bringing access to Teams to over 1.5 million NHS staff in just over a few weeks.

Whilst there have been a few bumps along the way, the overwhelming feedback from clinical colleagues has been extremely positive. It has immediately helped with reducing face-to-face meetings the co-ordination and communication of plans and information, and bringing together clinical teams, often across boundaries and disciplines. These teams have been able to create and share guidelines, understand and manage staffing challenges, and provide an immediate communication network to support remote working.

It’s clear that Teams is an intuitive product, borne of a user-centred design approach. Its implementation has also followed this same focus. This has helped enormously with an accelerated user adoption that has allowed our organisation to adapt promptly to this emergency.

In my other ‘team’, at the Faculty of Clinical Informatics, Teams has also been incredibly useful for us. We have been implementing this software into our work for the past few months, and more recently it has provided an excellent platform to virtually host our Council and Faculty meetings.

In the response to COVID-19, the rollout of Microsoft Teams in NHS Scotland is already proving invaluable to clinical colleagues. This has helped them respond rapidly to the significant changes in clinical practice that have been required to help save lives during this national crisis.

Paul Campbell
Honorary Secretary
Faculty of Clinical