"A quick note of thanks regarding the promptness of sorting out the Cisco Duo installation for us. Mark was a pleasure to work with (at distance) last week – he is highly knowledgeable, and his approach was very professional, giving us a high degree of confidence that the solution was being set up in the most appropriate way for us here at BCUHB."

NHS fight from home

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) is the largest Health Board in Wales covering five counties in part of the most beautiful areas of the UK. It serves approximately 700,000 people providing a full range of primary, community, mental health, and acute hospital services.

Late on a Friday night in March 2020 after the Prime Minister’s announcement about the first pandemic lockdown, the Head of ICT at BCUHB confirmed to CAE that he had to enable nearly 3,000 staff to work from home the following week.

The health board’s existing VPN solution wasn’t fit for purpose and early indications showed that performance was already degraded with multiple calls in to its service desk. Providing healthcare is a true team endeavour, and the ability of administrative and other staff to work from home effectively was crucial to being able to cope with the accelerating pandemic.

Building the most robust solution possible with minimum delay

The CAE team was onsite almost immediately to begin configuration, and discovered that the National Remote Access Network through NHS Wales Information Services was creaking as the infrastructure struggled to process the number of remote connections to National Applications.

 Within a week the team had deployed Cisco DUO, and, working in partnership with both the Cisco and DUO Teams delivered a robust multi-factor authentication solution for up to 5,000 users.

The Outcome

The CAE team helped newly remote staff, unused to working from home and dealing with the personal impact of a changing world, to work from home seamlessly, accessing clinical applications quickly and securely. The team is delighted that the agile approach taken resulted in a successful deployment for BCUHB, allowing them to concentrate on supporting the NHS during a critical period.