The health service’s central ‘IT spine’ has migrated onto a new system in a move senior figures hope will improve the integration of data and information systems in the NHS and social services.

The migration to the newly built “Spine 2” system last weekend was overseen by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and is understood to have taken place without significant disruption.

The service’s central spine supports core systems such as the personal demographics service, nearly 40 million summary care records and the NHS Number system.

It is used for 16 million prescriptions every month and some 275,000 NHS staff connect to the spine every day.

Failure to complete a successful migration could have resulted in a number of core systems being ground to a halt and essential information not being accessible.     

The information centre chair Kingsley Manning praised the transition team’s efforts at the body’s board meeting on Wednesday.

“The dog did not bark,” he said.

“The fact no one noticed is a massive sign of success.”

The transition team, led by director of operations and assurance Rob Shaw, said it would wait until 8 September before officially announcing the transition successful and that transition teams were on hand.   

The new system, developed in partnership with software firm BJSS, is “open source” meaning it is NHS owned rather than the intellectual property of a proprietary company.

Open source refers to a programme in which the source code is available to the general public.

When alterations or updates to the system are required, they can be done without having to negotiate change fees with a private provider, as is often the case with other major public sector and NHS IT projects.    

Mr Shaw told HSJ: “One of the most encouraging aspects of how we have achieved this hugely complex insourcing is our work with some small, innovative supplier partners like BJSS for development and Basho Technologies in terms of database provision.”   

He said it was now easier to “introduce new applications or enable new users from a range of organisations” because the new system was built on an open source basis.  

“This has to be an important step on the journey to better integration of information so that all parts of the health service, and eventually social care, can speak to each other, observe the same standards, drive up data quality and ensure the responsive care that all patients have a right to expect,” he said.