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JISC has consulted various organisations within the UK regarding the transition to federated access management. A clear recommendation for this work is the need to consider carefully the join-up between the NHS and Higher Education and the academic services that their users share, in terms of identity and access management. This study investigated any potential cross-sector problems that may arise or potentially be solved from the move towards federated access management.

Federated Access Management and Cross-Sector Issues for UK Education and Health

Aims and objectives

JISC is interested in investigating further the potential for federated access management to support greater interoperability and join-up between the NHS and FE sectors. JISC has commissioned this study to explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of the following options in terms of identity and access management:

  • NHS joins the UK Access Management Federation – extending the remit to education, research and Health
  • NHS creates a separate federation within the UK for Health
  • NHS continues to use Athens as the primary access management system, using developments in interoperability between SAML/Shibboleth and Athens.
  • NHS considers the use of other technologies, such as Liberty Alliance and WS-Security.

The study aims to assess where to focus attention in terms of development for solving NHS and HE cross-sector issues over access management.  The study also wishes to support developments currently occurring with respect to these issues in the NHS.

Project methodology

The proposed study is a scoping study, which will aim to identify areas of work and issues rather than tackling the issues, or undertaking any technical development.

The scoping study will focus on the academic perspective and academic services and not more broadly clinical services per se, since this would increase the scope of the project too much at present. However, this would be a possible future expansion to the current work. We will also be focusing on access management issues within one Strategic Health Authority (the North East Region, since we already have good relations with the local SHA, and not across the whole of the NHS). It should be reasonable to extrapolate results from this study across the NHS and we plan to check this supposition through the NHS-HE Forum group.

The study will also promote awareness and interest raising in the form of presentations at relevant meetings (initially at the NHS-HE Forum, 9 November 2006) and other dissemination events, both those organised by the project for the purposes of meeting the aims and objectives, and other relevant meetings that occur within the timescale of the project. These events will be focussed on the NE region, and in particular building links with the SHA. Locally the SHA has offered assistance in running dissemination and focus group style events. We have also been given presentation time during the next NHS-HE Forum on 10 May 2007.

The study also intends to carry out interviews with key members of the NHS and HE cross- over community, to identify in more depth the access and identity issues that affect users. We plan to synthesise their comments into a report, and it may also be possible to produce case studies arising from this work.

Anticipated outputs and outcomes


  • Project plan
  • Focus group work and synthesised comments from interviews
  • Final report and advice for future work

Knowledge and Experience

  • Interviews with Key NHS and HE cross over staff
  • Definitive information on issues for cross-sector identity management

The main project outcome will be an assessment of the benefits and drawbacks to various access management and identity management strategies for sharing NHS and academic resources for users undergoing clinical training.

Project Staff

Project team

Dr Tony McDonald, University of Newcastle

Dr Megan Quentin-Baxter, University of Newcastle and HEA Subject Centre for Medcine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine

Janet Wheeler, University of Newcastle

Project management

Dr Caroline Ingram, CSI Consultancy Ltd


The final report of this project is now available

Documents & Multimedia

Start date
1 March 2007
End date
31 May 2007
Funding programme
Access Management Transition programme