Built in the 1970’s, Barnsley’s 500+ bed hospital serves a community population of over 250,000 people. With services ranging across emergency, outpatient clinics, inpatient, maternity, children, cancer and surgical, the 3000 staffed Foundation Trust has a varied set of demands.

The Challenge

In 2014 the decision was taken to implement a new electronic patient record platform across the whole of the hospital.

The platform would improve records management and data collaboration, as well as drive a more paper light environment. Although a positive move for the Trust, the ageing PC estate was significantly under-powered to support the new EPR service. Faced with the mammoth task of replacing 1700 PC’s, the Trust began looking for a more intelligent way of reducing both time and cost.

“We had arrived at a crossroads for our PC estate,” comments Jason Bradley, Director of ICT at Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust. “A lot of our IT was coming to the end of its life, and with more and more information being digitised, we were experiencing a rising number of issues. Logging-on was taking some 30 minutes, our staff were becoming frustrated and felt like their time was being wasted, especially when they had to log-on up to 40 times a day. Multiple passwords and usernames for various systems (often as many as 20) were also taking their toll. Typically, these situations were leading to user workarounds. PC’s were being left open, accessible by anyone, posing potential security and compliance issues.”

“With a team of twelve covering all of our IT,” continues Jonathan Hayes, Head of IT, “a replacement desktop project would be both costly, resource hungry, and would slow other IT initiatives causing ‘knock-on’ delays to the Trust and its users.”

The Solution

“We began looking at the potential of virtualising our core services, and quickly discovered that not only would it help centralise and better manage our IT estate, it would also mean that our existing equipment could be re-purposed and perform faster, delivering a more efficient, and in many situations, mobile experience. Likewise, we finally felt that we had a solution to removing the end-user log-on, password and compliance concerns helping us to lower risk and improve quality.”

“Through a competitive tender process, we selected Block as our solution provider. Having worked with them before, we had confidence in their understanding of our needs and approach to healthcare project delivery. They demonstrated a high level of expertise and know-how of what would be required to succeed.”

“With the decision made to convert the IT estate to a virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI), the project needed delivering within a tight timescale to remain in-line with the EPR project. Taking a phased approach, the partnership with Block has enabled us to stick within timescales, whilst dealing with the usual bumps in the road that such large projects often experience.”

“Re-using both existing PC’s and thin client terminals, this complex project has seen a range of technologies and services come together to create a more compliant, faster and better result.”

“We’ve worked with a number of vendors and services on this project; Cisco, VMware, IGEL, Imprivata, Isosec and Block. The solution covered every aspect from the back-office to the end-user, comprising not only the devices at the desk, but also software, infrastructure and management elements.”

The Outcomes

“As a key project for IT at Barnsley, the VDI project has been a big game-changerfor us. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the Lorenzo EPR system, and it also gave us a resolution to our legacy Windows XP issue. Log-on times are now sub-twenty seconds, single sign-on means users only need one password and username and then their swipe card access takes care of the rest.”

“Unattended workstations are automatically disconnected, yet they can be restored in seconds from any available desktop without losing the earlier data or session, wherever you are on the campus. It’s fair to say that we feel that compliance, security and governance are better than ever, without imposing anything on the hospital staff.”

“Overall, we’re now seeing far fewer support calls around lost passwords, email, application and system access issues than ever before. This has meant we’re able to start projects quicker with the freed IT resource, outsource less, and focus more thoroughly on the complex issues some of our staff occasionally face.”

“User dependency on specific devices has been lowered as our staff now know that PC sharing is straightforward and their access to other stations is quick and easy – queuing and other associated delays have been removed, and users attitudes to legacy equipment and IT has greatly improved.”

“It’s great to know that what we’re doing is making a big difference to the 3000 people our team of twelve serve. Knowing that IT’s value is being recognised every day by our staff has a huge impact on the perception and morale of the department.”

“The VDI project has enabled us to move in a better direction. With these IT building blocks in place, the potential to do even more is there, and becoming paper-light is beginning to happen.”


  • A minute in medicine is a long time, it can be the difference between life or death, especially in acute emergency situations where access to information is critical.

    Dr Chan-Lam
    Chief Clinical Information Officer Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • “Block’s engagement has been fantastic. The support, expertise and ability to tackle complex projects extends our in-house skills to maximum effect”

    Jonathan Hayes, Head of IT
  • “The VDI project has enabled us to move in a better direction. With these IT building blocks in place; the potential to do even more is there, and becoming paper-light is beginning to happen”

    Jason Bradley
    Former Director of ICT