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NHS Blood and Transplant seeks to beef up Whitehall partner links

Neil Merrett Published 20 August 2015

Transplant body seeks to connect web-based architecture of its new donor register with wider number of departmental systems


NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is looking to partner with government bodies to integrate their services with its systems as part of expansion aims for a new organ donor register service launched last month.

The revamped register is designed to allow users to not only register an interest in donating their organs, but also update specific personal details including ethnicity and religion that will be anonymously collected.

Aaron Powell, chief digital officer for the organisation, said the new technology would provide users with more responsive webforms designed to improve how the register is updated.

Powell added that with aims to improve overall functionality and operational efficiency going forward, improved accessibility was a vital consideration for streamlining how other agencies and health staff are able to support NHSBT's work.

"We have a web service-based architecture that makes it easier for new web partners to integrate with our systems, that is very important because of a lot of our registrations come through prompts on partner websites, for example the DVLA website," he said.

"We are looking to increase these partnerships in future. And we are also now using a CMS platform that enables us to keep the content and information as up to date as possible."

The new register, developed by Northgate Public Services (NPS) as part of a contract valued at around £1m, will also see the company providing support and maintenance for the next two years. An option to extend the deal for an additional two years has also been included.

Powell said that the original register had launched 20 years ago as a marketing database, before the addition of new functionality to create a system holding details of some 21m people.

This added functionality includes secure mobile online access for specialist nurses that consult with families of potential donors, while also holding details designed to ensure the register can better match donors and recipients.

Powell stressed that the register could only be accessed by authorised users and service providers from NHSBT, along with a number of wider initiatives designed to protect information.

"Audit trails are maintained and are automatically scanned for suspicious activity," he said. "The register is not publicly accessible and not open to the internet."

In moving to add new functionality as part of expansion aims for the service, Powell maintained that balancing access to online registration channels while having to safeguard security and integrity of the register was of key importance.

He added that the need to balance security had led to a decision to postpone plans for implementing a full self-service model until what it described as a robust, pan-government user authentication method is available.

Having implemented a new front end and back end application to the register, Powell said that NHSBT expected to look at user feedback from the live service to identify how to develop the service further.

"The focus will be on areas which improve service functionality, service levels and operational efficiencies. We hope the new register will lead to more people agreeing to donation, and more lives being saved," he said.

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