NHS picks Wagtail CMS to power the next generation of its online services

The NHS has chosen Wagtail, an open source content management system (CMS), as the platform for the digital team’s mission to overhaul www.nhs.uk.

The NHS digital team sought a flexible, scalable, affordable and well-designed CMS to power the next iteration of the popular NHS Choices site. With over 45 million visits each month, addressing user needs is vital, and the team went into considerable detail when evaluating CMS options – from how to display sensitive imagery most sympathetically to how best to organise and present complex information.

Built by UK agency Torchbox on the popular Django framework, Wagtail has been lauded by developers and content editors alike for its usability and elegance. The free system has been used by a growing number of organisations in the healthcare sector, both within the NHS and worldwide.

Andy Callow, head of technology delivery for nhs.uk, commented: “As we progress the transformation of nhs.uk, the content management system we use is a really important factor for our success. We looked at a number of CMS options over an extended period, and Wagtail was a good fit for our needs. One thing we particularly liked was the vibrant and responsive open source community, and we look forward to making our contributions to that.”

The NHS digital team noted that editor experience was another crucial consideration. With a large team of content editors and product managers responsible for keeping critical information up to date and adhering to important authoring and sign-off processes, the were keen to make the experience as smooth as possible for everyone.

Tom Dyson, technical director at Torchbox, added: “The first hints that nhs.uk were adopting Wagtail came from a cryptic tweet and an intriguing Github project. We’re very proud that our CMS will run one of the UK’s most important websites, and we’re delighted to be working with the expert team at NHS Digital.”

Wagtail was first developed by digital agency Torchbox as a bespoke CMS for the Royal College of Art. The success of the system went on to launch Wagtail as an open source project in 2014. Since then, it has been the website platform of choice for companies such as Google, Nasa, Macmillan and Oxfam, and housed the content for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.