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Supporting the deployment of interim scheduling software for COVID-19 vaccinations

We facilitated the implementation of SimplyBook, an interim solution for COVID-19 vaccinations scheduling, until the national system was operational.

Background
When NHS England and Improvement set an ambitious timeline for implementation of the vaccination programme, delays with the national technical platform posed a risk to a rapid rollout. The Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership decided to build a contingency infrastructure on the pre-existing SimplyBook online scheduling software.

The plan provided interim support to the COVID-19 vaccination programme and allowed NHS staff to book vaccinations for patients electronically from 1 December 2020, while the development of the national booking solution continued. Due to the rapidly expanding interest in the SimplyBook design from other areas and organisations, and the limited resources available to support this activity, Midlands and Lancashire CSU was asked to assist with its deployment.

Action
To support a quick and effective implementation of SimplyBook, we prepared a system onboarding guide providing details of the deployment process and approach, system functionality, the registration procedure, roles and responsibilities, and so on. Over subsequent weeks, we rolled out the system to local primary-care run vaccination centres, hospital sites and mass vaccination hubs, providing:

  • Structured stakeholder communication to wider groups of staff who would use the system
  • Onsite support with registration and onboarding at 11 sustainability and transformation partnerships and other organisations
  • A help desk to serve as point of contact for any queries and frequently asked questions about SimplyBook
  • Help with risk management and problem resolution.

Impact

Our implementation support allowed the central Cheshire and Merseyside team to concentrate on developing the system solution and its technical deployment.

The SimplyBook programme proved to be very successful and provided the necessary contingency to bridge the technical gap as early as possible to enable patients to book their vaccines.

This success is continuing through the handover to the National Booking System as this is rolled out.