Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) provides community health, mental health and learning disability services to approximately 2.5 million people throughout Bedfordshire, Essex, Suffolk and Luton.
The formation of the Trust in April 2017 brought with it different approaches to phone and IT services, as well as various legacy systems. Coupled with the gradual phase-out of PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), the Trust’s main objective was to modernise its telephony services.
Voice and telephony services play a crucial part in the day-to-day operations at EPUT. With 5,000 members of staff working across 200 sites, the Trust wanted to consolidate and modernise its existing legacy telephony estate. Not only to provide a better service to patients but also to improve the working environment for staff.
As part of the project, EPUT required its selected supplier to undertake all migrations. This involved replacing traditional ISDN and BT Featurenet lines in favour of new Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) service provisions, as well as installing a range of new handsets with enhanced functionality to staff across all sites.
Finally, EPUT also wanted to streamline its call centre operation and gain more visibility around call statistics, enabling them to deliver a better service to patients calling into the Trust.
David Lawrence, Associate Director of IT Strategy, Technical Projects says: “Having multiple legacy services made things difficult. For example, if employees wanted to place a call from one site to another, in some instances they would be able to do that as an extension call at zero cost – as it’s on the same network. But at other sites, calls would be placed between different networks, meaning they were Off-Net and incurring charges.”
By bringing all services onto the existing in-house platform, based on Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager, EPUT could expand on the existing investment made by the former South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
The scope of the deployment by Cinos included installation of 1,500 Cisco handsets, setting up Cinos connectivity services, provision of SIP channels and delivery of professional services.
Previously, all PSTN connections at the Trust were made through ISDN services with every site using its own circuit. Not only was this a costly solution to maintain but it also meant that in the event of a failure, EPUT would have to wait for the service provider to restore the system. Within a short period of five months, Cinos retired the traditional services and replaced them with two new SIP channels, delivering enough capacity to allow the Trust to migrate away from ISDN services altogether.
This has enabled EPUT to consolidate and centrally manage connectivity, reducing the number of dedicated telephone lines and enabling significant cost savings. It has also given them the additional resilience to ensure constant connectivity in the event of an outage and carry out upgrades with minimal impact to end-users.
It was crucial that each part of the new telephony system was operational on the day of the move, which meant that Cinos ported all numbers, so employees didn’t have to learn new numbers and relocated legacy hardware in a way that did not impact day-to-day operations.