Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust reduces helpdesk calls and increases productivity


Providing patient care for more than 250 years




  • Too many passwords
  • Overburdened helpdesk
  • Needed physical and network security consolidation


  • Fast and convenient access to applications
  • Increased uer satisfaction
  • Increased management of user credentials

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been providing patient-centred healthcare to communities in the northeast of England and beyond for over 250 years. One of the largest NHS Trusts in the UK, delivering services from three major sites, the Trust is recognised nationally as a centre of excellence.

In addition to deploying a new Cerner Millennium patient administration system via University Pittsburgh Medical Centre, the Trust is also currently undergoing a major building and reorganisation project. This project will see the relocation of all acute hospital services at two new sites in order to bring hospital services together to improve the quality of patient care. As part of the building transformation project, the Trust is implementing new building access control and physical security systems from Honeywell at sites across the city.

The business challenge

Remembering multiple passwords for numerous applications proved problematic for staff who would resort to writing down logins in to remember them or would forget passwords and then be locked out of applications. Also, each user had to carry up to three separate smart cards in order to gain access to IT and building resources.

The IT helpdesk had to deal with large numbers of password reset requests; about 55 percent of all calls to the helpdesk were password related. “The Trust was looking to consolidate its physical and network security systems, to achieve ‘joined up computing’ and to reduce its management overhead,” explained Richard Oliver, IT security manager at the Trust.

The Trust wanted to improve productivity and remove a range of password issues for the 11,000 clinical and administrative staff. It was imperative that the system would integrate with the Trust’s new building access systems and strengthen overall security.

The solution: Imprivata OneSign

Working with its partner, BMS, the Trust chose Imprivata OneSign® Single Sign-On (SSO) for the solution’s ability to implement a proven identity management system that can also integrate with the physical security system to enforce a robust security policy across all of the Trust’s computing assets.

Oliver said, “We chose BMS because they are Imprivata accredited and we had already developed an excellent working relationship with the company over a number of years. We have found that BMS are much more than an IT supplier, they are a partner. I trust what they tell me to be factual and not hype, and their technical staff are exceptional.”

Across the Trust, both clinical and non-clinical staff require access to confidential information as part of their daily activities. Due to the sensitive nature of the data, employees were issued unique usernames and passwords for the applications they were authorised to access.

To further increase patient data security, the Trust opted to utilize strong authentication via smartcards which combined both chip and pin and proximity functionality, so that once users are authenticated they will automatically be granted access to all the applications that they are allowed to use.

Following a pilot phase, the Trust began its roll-out of SSO and strong authentication with a new application for women’s services, with access given to PAS, maternity, labs and x-ray systems as well as local databases, covering 500 users. During the later stages of 2009 the solution was rolled out to all users as part of the new Cerner PAS implementation, enabling all staff members to utilize using smart cards for single sign-on.

The results

“This deployment of SSO and strong authentication is one of the largest in the UK health sector and it demonstrates how local needs can be met using innovative approaches linking to the Connecting for Health national scheme.” said Tina Tsoukatos, managing director of BMS.

Oliver commented, “we have reduced the volume of password reset requests by around 40 percent and anticipate that this percentage will continue to increase until roll-out is completed, and we have also improved staff productivity levels. This project is proving to be popular with both the IT helpdesk team and the general user population. Staff will now only have to use one card for all their access needs, using only one password, saving time and increasing staff productivity, whilst at the same time improving our overall security.”

Oliver went on to say, “The level of assistance we have received from BMS in the implementation of the solution has been incredible. The knowledge and skills of the engineer were fantastic and when we hit difficulties or issues which had not been encountered in other locations, due to the way we wanted to use the product, the BMS engineer always found the way to resolve the problem. He researched the issue, found alternatives where needed and provided advice and a resolution wherever possible. BMS always go much more than the extra mile, and I have no hesitation in recommending them.”