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Minister pledges full fibre broadband for all of England’s NHS


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a target for all of England’s hospitals and GP practices to have fast fibre optic broadband soon.

He made the commitment public at the Royal College of General Practitioners technology conference yesterday, saying it is intended to support the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan, which pledges to improve online access to NHS services.

It is a revision of plans under which 70% of NHS organisations were due have full fibre connectivity via leased lines by August 2020. Hancock has now set an ambition for every hospital, GP practice and community care service to have fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections as soon as possible.

According to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) the current rate is 38%.

Further details of the plan are to be set out as part of the GP IT operating model, which is to be published by the recently created NHSX unit within the DHSC as one of its first tasks.

Current limitations

The department said that almost 40% of NHS organisations are currently using slow and unreliable internet supplied through copper lines, which restricts the ability to offer digital services such as video consultations.

Hancock said: “It’s simply unbelievable that a third of NHS organisations are using internet that can sometimes be little better than dial-up.

"To give people control over how they access NHS services, I want to unlock the full potential of technology. This is the future for our 21st century healthcare system and a central part of our NHS Long Term Plan.

“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.”

Image: by neiljaxx CC BY 2.0 via flickr

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