The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has awarded aggregator status for the N3 network to InTechnology Managed Services.
N3 was set up in 2004 and serves as the internal national broadband network for the NHS. It provides hospitals, medical centres and GPs in England and Scotland with access to BT's broadband and voice services, as well as a range of software solutions such as digital x-rays.
It is used by over 1.3 million NHS employees and has Public Services Network certification.
Aggregators are responsible for assessing and approving applications from third parties wanting to connect to the N3 network, such as software suppliers, commercial and third sector providers. InTechnology follows Capita, which also won aggregator status in March.
ComputerworldUK understands that other suppliers will join them as aggregators in future, though HSCIC is yet to confirm this.
N3's future has been in question for months as its contract with BT was due to expire in March. HSCIC explained that it has recently negotiated to extend the contract, which it says will now move into a "three year transition period".
According to the HSCIC website, "existing funding and service arrangements will continue whilst a replacement service is designed and procured."
HSCIC is tasked with providing information, data and IT systems for health and social care by the Department of Health.
InTechnology already provides NHS bodies with connections to the N3 network, and will now be able to support companies through the process of application and connection.
InTechnology's healthcare solutions director Mark Hall said: "For suppliers looking to connect to the NHS internal network this new process will provide the skills, resources and time often lacking internally. It will also provide assurance that all information governance and security regulations are being met."
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