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South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

“Being the first NHS organisation to obtain this accreditation shows our level of maturity provides reassurance to the Trust that the ICT department is amongst the best, providing value for money.”

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Michael Dean talks to Ricky MacKennon, Deputy Director of ICT at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust about their accreditation to the National Computing Centre Standard for ICT Departments (ITDA).

What is the IT Department accreditation?

The assessment scheme which underpins the NCC ITDA examines an ICT department’s performance against 110 common controls (Lines of Enquiry), enabling ICT departments to compare and understand their own strengths and weaknesses. The Standard covers five key aspects of an ICT function - all with a focus on their contribution to business goals:

  • Business management
  • Business direction
  • Service generation
  • Delivery and operations
  • Customer relationships

Over fifty organisations have committed to undertake the assessment process with 27 having achieved full accreditation. All applicants going through the accreditation receive a bespoke Action Plan detailing actions that need to be undertaken and helping the ICT function to prioritise areas for improvement.

The ITDA accreditation scheme provides certification for those ICT departments who score well. The accreditation certificate is in recognition of appropriate practice against the NCC standard. South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is the first NHS organisation to achieve full ITDA accreditation.

The background to SLaM

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, or SLaM for short, is the UK’s largest mental health Trust serving 1.1 million people from over 100 sites across South London in the Boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth and Croydon, and provides specialist services across the UK such as substance misuse services for people addicted to drugs and or alcohol. SLaM ( is part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre a pioneering collaboration between Kings College London, and Guy's and St Thomas', Kings College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

King’s Health Partners brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. King’s Health Partners drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. (

There are 8,000 users on the SLaM ICT network, 5,000 of whom are direct employees, with another 3,000 users employed by the Institute of Psychiatry King’s College London, Social Services and Primary Care Trusts.

MacKennon in his role as Deputy Director of the ICT Department is responsible for the technical support teams and creating new business opportunities. The department with a head count of 82 was restructured in October 2010 to support the business in its shift from geographic to Clinical Academic Group (CAG) based structures.

Reasons for applying for accreditation

SLaM recognise the advantages of accreditation “This is all part of the staff commitment to service improvement and ICT must play its part in supporting the business.” said MacKennon. Continual service improvement is a commitment that runs deep in ICT at SLaM. There is a lot of management support for good practice and continuous service improvement delivered with professionalism both inside and outside the department; individuals are always encouraged to attain relevant technical and non technical qualifications such as CCNA, PRINCE2 or ITIL to satisfy team and personal development.

“We are always looking to align our processes to industry best practice,” said MacKennon, “It’s important that the organisation gets the best service and value for money from its investment in ICT. It’s also important that staff have goals to aim for and receive recognition for their achievements”.

Uniquely, the ITDA provides a comparator to benchmark with other services in the industry as well as a mechanism for the whole department to be put to the test. Measuring the maturity of a function and using this as a comparator is important in distinguishing who is best placed to provide a service, supporting the aspiration of SLaM ICT in becoming the ICT service of choice was one of the reasons to undertake the accreditation to the National Computing Centre Standard for ICT Departments.

The ITDA process

MacKennon’s experience of the ITDA process was very positive. “NCC’s Assessor was very professional, and put us at ease from the initial meeting. The ITDA is all about showing how good practice used across all the disciplines in ICT comes together to deliver a great customer orientated service. Our approach was to delegate our preparatory work amongst the service heads. Due to our adoption of good practice we already had a lot the required evidence to hand, the structured framework of the ITDA allowed us to identify any gaps and resolve any potential non-compliance in time for assessment. We had been through other accreditations and were used to working that way, it was relatively straightforward to follow the NCC process.”

On the assessment day, service heads presented SLaM's evidence of compliance for their area of excellence, work, and managerial responsibility, at the end of the session the Assessor was pleased to recommend accreditation, subject to the clarification of one particular Line of Enquiry. Evidence for this Line of Enquiry was provided quickly afterwards and the NCC moderator fully endorsed SLaM’s accreditation.

The benefits

“The ITDA supported our approach to demonstrate the maturity of the department to the Trust and potential purchasers of ICT services. The accreditation provides us with supporting evidence to potential customers that gives us the potential to raise additional income streams from offering our ICT services to other NHS and Healthcare organisations.” he said, “If our services and processes are independently recognised as excellent by the National Computing Centre, then alongside our scoring against the ITIL maturity rating and other good practice, together with the number of certificates displayed, we can reassure potential customers that our services are well managed, underpinned by quality processes and are ready to support their business.”

ITDA, not only satisfies team development, but personal development as well.

When the department or an individual achieves an award, the certificate is displayed in a prominent communal area for visitors to see. Anyone who has been to the department can’t help but notice the number of certificates on our wall and some have commented “how impressed they were with the achievements.”


“We are all delighted with the result and at a service aligned to any business”, MacKennon says. “Being the first NHS organisation to obtain this accreditation shows our level of maturity provides reassurance to the Trust that the ICT department is amongst the best, providing value for money. In addition the accreditation provides assurance that is evidenced to prospective customers that their ICT will be in safe hands. It will be a pleasure to put the certificate on our wall and it is a testament to the whole department that external assessment has confirmed that they can consistently deliver outstanding performance by the adoption of appropriate processes. I’d certainly recommend other organisations apply for accreditation, it’s well worth it”.

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