NHS set to receive full fibre connectivity

NHS set to receive full fibre connectivity

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The health secretary has pledged that every hospital, GP surgery and community care facility in the NHS will be able to access full fibre connectivity as part of a new government scheme.

Speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners' technology conference this week, Matt Hancock said it is unacceptable that many practitioners are still having to put up with slow speeds for essential activities.

It has been suggested that up to 40 per cent of NHS organisations are still struggling with slow, unreliable copper wire-based connectivity that is not fit for the needs of today's environment, while up to 80 per cent of GPs are still relying on outdated IT systems.

Mr Hancock said: "Every day, our NHS staff do amazing work - but too often they are let down by outdated and unreliable technology. It's simply unbelievable that a third of NHS organisations are using internet that can sometimes be little better than dial-up."

Therefore, he pledged to make better connectivity a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which is a ten-year roadmap published in January that outlines work to expand and improve online access to NHS services over the next decade.

Under existing proposals, the government was aiming to bring full fibre technology to 70 per cent of NHS organisations by 2020 using leased lines, but this week's commitment appears to go much further.

Mr Hancock said: "Faster broadband connections can help us deliver these dramatic improvements - we need clinicians and other healthcare professionals to feel confident they can access fast, reliable broadband so they can provide patients with the best possible care."

Fast, reliable fibre connectivity should enable healthcare providers to offer a wider range of services, such as video consultations, as well as making it faster and easier to access information like patient records and research data from across NHS networks.

The new commitment was welcomed by Openreach, with managing director of strategic infrastructure at the firm Kim Mears saying: "We believe our network can do even more for patients and healthcare professionals, and we're talking to all parts of government about how to encourage greater investment in full fibre broadband."

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