Tech giant IBM has won a £20m contract to run a new national cyber security service for the NHS.

NHS Digital, which is national lead on cyber security, confirmed on Thursday that it had signed a three year deal with IBM to run an expanded national cyber security operations centre.

The service will both detect cyber security threats across national IT systems and provide specialist advice to individual NHS and social care organisations.

It will run alongside, rather than replace, NHS Digital’s existing data security centre.

IBM will also run “security monitoring pilots” at NHS organisations throughout the country, testing technologies for protecting against cyber attacks that could be rolled out across the NHS estate nationally.

NHS Digital did not disclose the value of the contract, but the original tender for the contract estimated would be worth £20m over three years.

The centre is part of the wider response to the global WannaCry ransomware attack last year, which disrupted services at more than 80 hospitals and led to the cancellation of thousands of appointments.

Since then, the NHS has introduced tougher regulations around data security and diverted hundreds of millions of pounds into improving the health system’s fragile IT infrastructure. 

Dan Taylor, data security centre director at NHS Digital, said the deal with IBM “will give us, during times of increased need, the ability to draw on a pool of dedicated professionals.”

“This partnership will allow us to share knowledge and skills from the information security industry, whilst continuing to develop our internal expertise and supporting health and care organisations to build their own cyber resilience.

Rob Sedman, IBM UK and Ireland security director, said: “IBM is excited to partner with NHS Digital and bring enhanced detection and incident response coordination capabilities to its Data Security Centre.”