Meet the Leeds tech consultancy that helped build the NHS vaccinations platform

Technology can play a big role in alleviating pressure on frontline healthcare services as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic, according to the founder of a consultancy that played a key role in the Covid vaccinations drive.

Axiologik was established by Ben Davison, pictured, Robert Stanger and Adrian Stanbury five years ago.

Ben Davison, co-founder of Leeds-based Axiologik, believes there is still great scope to work with the NHS on digital transformation, helping drive efficiencies and reducing strain on emergency care.

“There’s lots of opportunity within healthcare for digital,” Mr Davison told The Yorkshire Post. “Waiting lists are longer than ever, we’re still in a pandemic, the healthcare system is under incredible pressure.

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“More than ever digital has got a role to play in trying to help alleviate pressure on the frontline.”

“More than ever digital has got a role to play in trying to help alleviate pressure on the frontline," says Ben Davison.

Axiologik, which has 15 permanent staff, was helping to deliver a large digital transformation for the Home Office before the pandemic hit last year. It had also worked with NHS Digital prior to Covid-19.

Mr Davison said: “When the pandemic hit, the NHS realised that it needed a particular set of skills to help build some of these very large, very complicated digital services in a very short period of time.

“But also there wasn’t really an established recipe book, for example, a Covid testing service. Nobody really has any experience of building a large-scale Covid testing infrastructure.

“They needed somebody to help them build something that was very complicated and do it at pace and do it in an uncertain world.

“We are incredibly proud of the fact that we’ve played such a significant role in building some of these really critical services during the pandemic," says Ben Davison.

“They asked Axiologic to help set up the Covid testing service. I initially led the set up of that service. Axiologic had a team in there doing some of the delivery leadership on that programme.”

The business was then asked to help establish the Covid vaccination technology infrastructure.

“My business partner Adrian was responsible for the set-up of all the technology and data infrastructure for the Covid vaccination service,” Mr Davison said. “We also had a team from Axiologic that was managing the development of all the IT that was needed for that.”

The greatest challenge when it came to establishing the programme was the amount of work that needed to be done in such a short period of time.

“That becomes very difficult when everybody is working from home,” Mr Davison says. “Quite often people don’t know each other with lots of different suppliers trying to work together.”

The firm started working on the vaccinations programme in November 2020, taking it live the following month.

Mr Davison said: “We are incredibly proud of the fact that we’ve played such a significant role in building some of these really critical services during the pandemic. It’s what gets us out of bed. It’s the reason why we set the business up in the first place.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity to apply our skills and our experience in doing something that is so important to the country.”

Axiologik also works with a number of associates and in total has 50 people working at the business.

The Leeds-based consultancy is looking to grow its permanent workforce by adding another 20 to 30 people within the next six to nine months.

However, Leeds is a competitive market when it comes to hiring tech talent with firms “recruiting quite aggressively because there is so much work in technology coming out of the Covid crisis that everybody is trying to recruit at the same time”, says Mr Davison.

Axiologik will also be moving to a new office in Holbeck just after Christmas. The business is currently based at the Platform building above Leeds railway station.

Leeds has become a hotbed of healthtech innovation. It stems from NHS Digital’s presence in the city, Mr Davison says.

He added: “That has led to a really vibrant healthcare ecosystem in this area so people move around, they have healthcare experience, they get to work with the NHS, they see the opportunities, they start their own organisations, they grow, they work with the NHS etc.

“There’s been a virtuous circle around healthcare in Leeds since about 2003.”

Helping to get it right first time

Axiologik was established by Ben Davison, Robert Stanger and Adrian Stanbury five years ago. The trio met while at BT, where they helped turn around the healthcare IT project, Spine.

Mr Davison said: “It had got into some challenges at the time and we were part of the project team that was responsible for turning that around. Subsequently, we spent a lot of our time turning around quite big IT projects that weren’t going particularly well.

“We collectively got a bit frustrated that we were spending all of our time turning around things that weren’t working. We wanted to help customers get it right the first time around.”

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James Mitchinson