14. Operate a reliable service
People need the NHS 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Minimise service downtime and have a plan to deal with it when it does happen.
Why it's important
The public, patients and staff need to access NHS services throughout the day and night. If a service is unavailable or slow, it can mean people do not get the help they need.
What you should do
Your team should be able to show that you:
- maximise uptime and speed of response for the online part of the service
- deploy software changes regularly, without significant downtime
- carry out quality assurance testing regularly
- test the service in an environment that's as similar to live as possible
- have appropriate monitoring in place, together with a proportionate, sustainable plan to respond to problems identified by monitoring (given the impact of problems on users and on the NHS)
- actively work towards fixing any organisational or contractual issues which make it difficult to maximise availability (for example, by agreeing a common set of languages, tools, and ways of working for technical staff)
- Deploying software regularly
- Monitoring the status of your service
- Quality assurance: testing your service regularly
- Uptime and availability: keeping your service online
- Talk to us on the service manual Slack channel or email the standards team at email@example.com.
Get in touch
If you’ve got a question about the NHS digital service manual or want to feedback, get in touch.
Updated: December 2019