NHSX and NHS Digital have negotiated offers with telecoms companies to get more care homes and providers in England connected to the internet during the Covid-19 crisis.
They have published the offers from Virgin Media, BT, KCOM and TalkTalk, with guidance on choosing the most appropriate connection – based on the internet speed typically needed for homes of different sizes – and how to use digital services in a care home.
NHS Digital is also providing free NHSmail accounts to care home providers to help them share residents’ data and queries with doctors, nurses and GPs involved in their care.
The organisations said that data from the Care Quality Commission with BT Openreach shows that 7,000 care homes in England are without adequate internet connections, and that most continue to rely heavily on paper processes.
They said the internet connections will give the homes access to online services such as remote GP consultations and digital ordering of prescriptions.
NHS Digital’s programme director Patrick Clark said: “Good internet connectivity is fast becoming a ‘must have’ for everyone these days and is proving to be absolutely vital during these particularly challenging times.
“We’re working with the nation’s telecommunications suppliers who have put together a series of exclusive offers that will help care homes obtain cost-effective access to the connectivity packages they deserve.
“NHS Digital has also published some user-friendly guidance to help care home providers choose the package that best suits their needs – both now and in the future.”
The announcement follows shortly from one by the Department of Health and Social Security that it has set up a portal for care homes to order coronavirus test kits online.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0