Skip to main content

Interview: Deborah Saunby talks NHS, health IT and the future

What is your company all about?

Here at Software Europe, we've been providing cloud services to the market for 25 years now. We work in both the public and private ends of the market, but have had a lot of success in the NHS over the years, though we are starting to make inroads into areas like local government, too.

We are proud to say in the years since our first sale into the health service in 2004, we now have 179 NHS Trusts working with us; our stat is that 65 per cent of all the NHS organisations wit access to cloud use our applications, which help them with a range of HR, procurement, legal and financial functions.

So now Jeremy Hunt's back running Health, do you expect any big changes in the NHS HIT (Health IT) market?

Well, it'll take a while to settle all back down after the Election, but no, we don't expect any major changes in direction. I certainly don't expect to see any big changes in buying trends, for example - though we do want to see continued take-up of cloud right across the public sector, but the NHS especially.

A lot of commentators see an issue that there's relatively little NHS presence on the Digital Marketplace. What do you reckon about that, is it an issue or not?

We haven't seen huge traction off that, but then you do have to bear in mind that a lot of NHS HIT procurement is via existing Frameworks and Commerical Vehicles, not off the Cloudstore.

Having said that, I do expect that to change in the next couple of years, driven by both GDS but also the efforts of suppliers like who us wgo have a job to do spreading the word about how much more cost-effective and great for value cloud is as a procurement mechanism. The good news is there - for all of us - is that some really strong customer success stories are coming through which helps boost the whole thing, I think.

Five years ago, we'd have been talking National Programme for IT in any HIT context. Now, we really are in a post-NPfIT world, don't you think?

Absolutely. Though I do think that things are only slowly changing; a lot of sales are still driven by contracts out of that era that are only really starting to come to an end now.

So again, I don't see any immediate change. But I do see more SME involvement in the supply chain, at last, which I am glad to say we've been a bit of a part of, in terms of raising consciousness about what smaller suppliers can offer the public sector ICT buyer.

Great stuff. Let's pull it all together and ask you what you'd like to see in the next five years of the new administration, in terms of the IT industry, Deborah?

We need continuity - we need the good ideas around things like greater SME participation to continue and not be impeded. Definitely want to see more cloud, and cloud being recognised by a wider section of the community. Not necessarily radical changes, but still the right ones, in my opinion.