GMCA partner with ANS to provide children in Greater Manchester with the best start in life

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is made up of the ten Greater Manchester councils and the Mayor Andy Burnham, who work with other local services, businesses, communities and other partners to improve the city-region. Their goal is to make Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up and grow old by ensuing all children start school ready to learn, young people are equipped for life, good quality housing is available and that Greater Manchester pioneers this positive vision.

The Challenge

To deliver this vision, GMCA needed to build the infrastructure for a central health and care record for all Greater Manchester’s citizens, combining data from the NHS, local authorities and other public sector bodies across the region to drive improvements in the health and wealth of Greater Manchester’s 2.9 million citizens.

“One of the biggest challenges we have in public sector is identifying people within our systems and between different public sector organisations. Public sector bodies will use different identifiers, such as unique property reference numbers, NHS numbers, National Insurance numbers and so on. We actually have over 50 million identifiers for a population of 2.9 million people so it’s incredibly difficult to actually join up that data when you have no global identifier and it’s especially difficult to join up that data when a lot of it is legacy data. These challenges made it increasingly important to create a master data capability to be able to link, where appropriate, data together and drive efficiencies.”

To address this challenge, GMCA started to build the GM Digital platform, creating a regional master data capability that allowed the secure integration of data between different organisations.

“We were building the platform from scratch with the goal of it being a stand-alone resource that could be accessed by all Greater Manchester local authorities that would be deployed in  cloud.”

GMCA and Health partners formed a team of subject matter experts to architect the componentised platform in-house but lacked the necessary resources to support the deployment of the platform into cloud.

Early Years Digitisation

In Greater Manchester just 70% of children are deemed ‘school-ready’ by the age of 5. GMCA is on a mission to increase this number by using the GM Digital platform to digitise Early Years assessments by streamlining systems to connect hundreds of Greater Manchester professionals such as health visitors and early years practitioners with parents and carers, enabling them to work together to better support families.

To monitor a child’s development, paper-based assessments were used to review a child’s progress up to the age of 5 years.

“Children develop the most in the first 1000 days of their life. During this time, lots of different professionals will be involved, from midwives and health visitors to childminders, private nurseries and then the school system. The problem here is that data does not flow between the different services and professionals involved. By the time a child is 5, all we know is the percentage of how school-ready that child is. We had no idea how the child has progressed through that development journey and crucially to be able to make any changes, we need those insights.”

The Solution

GMCA went out to market in search of a partner to design, build and manage and maintain the cloud platform that the GM Digital platform would operate on. With a proven track record of successful cloud deployments across local government, GMCA selected ANS as their partner of choice.

ANS initially provided a cloud plan and design service which presented GMCA with an agnostic and unbiased appraisal of the requirements for a cloud platform. Using architecture alignment analysis and commercial modelling, ANS produced a target architecture, high level design and commercial proposal to present their findings and recommendations to GMCA.

Following this assessment, ANS built a production-ready multi-cloud capability to deliver a cost-effective, stable and secure platform to host the GM Digital platform from deployment stage through to production using ANS’ Cloud Start Accelerator.

Based on the ANS best practice framework, Cloud Start provided a bespoke design for GMCA while ensuring all best practices and key requirements were met. Key outcomes delivered through Cloud Start included:

A production-ready platform

Enabled GMCA to host production workloads with alignment to their compliance, security and architecture standards

A defined operating model

Ensured all required tooling was operational and processes and skills were in place

Enterprise governance

Provided transparent costs and a highly governed configuration

The Early Years App

The Outcomes

As a result of deploying the cloud platform, the GM Digital Platform is now live and operational.

Using the cloud platform, GMCA has been able to build an Early Years app that digitises the paper-based assessments currently used to review a child’s development.

The App provides parents and carers of children across Greater Manchester with a digital application that ensures parents and carers have access to both completed assessments and other supporting information completed by the professional, giving the parents and carers much more control over their own child’s data.

Over 18,000 assessments have been completed via the app which is feeding data back into the platform. Using this data, practitioners can now make appropriate referrals back to the relevant services and professionals to understand how each child’s learning develops based on specific activities. Practitioners can then make recommendations to parents and carers so they understand how best to help improve their child’s development.

The app is currently being used in Bury and Rochdale and deployment is underway in 3 other areas with plans for the remining Greater Manchester councils to go live later this year.

Next Steps

Building on this project, GMCA has also commissioned ANS to develop a data platform using Azure Synapse to anonymise the data flowing through the Early Years app so that it can be sent to GMCAs research teams. These teams will then undertake risk stratification to understand the data in more detail in order to establish which children will need more help and how best to provide this additional support.

GMCA are looking into how the platform can be applied in Victim Support, Homelessness and other important areas of health.

Experience of working with ANS

ANS were the only partner in the country with the ability to deliver the multi-cloud approach we needed along with the experience and credibility across both local government and healthcare which made them an obvious choice when looking for a strategic partner who could work closely with our other vendors.”

“I’ve worked with ANS for a number of years on many different projects and can’t fault their expertise, professionalism or commitment. Working with ANS, we have been able to launch the GM Digital platform in a well-architecture, secure and scalable multi-cloud environment and in doing so have made significant progress on our goal to provide all children in the region with the best start in life.

Jon Burt
Lead Enterprise Architect, GMCA
Innovation Hub

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