Hospitals and GP practices across the UK will soon have access to the fastest fiber-optic broadband to support widespread improvements in the range and quality of digital healthcare services as part of the Long Term Plan according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Currently almost 40 percent of NHS organizations are using slow and unreliable internet supplied through copper lines which restricts the ability to offer digital services such as video consultations to patients.
In a speech at the Royal College of General Practitioners technology conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced plans to upgrade every hospital, GP practice and community care service to full fibre connectivity.
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The commitment is part of a larger effort to support the 10-year NHS Long Term Plan which was published in January and pledges to radically expand and improve online access to healthcare services.
Long Term Plan
Under the NHS Long Term Plan, every patient will get the right to choose a “digital first” approach to primary healthcare. This means that more of the 307m patient consultations that take place with GPs each year would be offered online in the future through video consultation as well as through face-to-face meetings.
Hospital outpatient clinics will also be redesigned with more “virtual clinics” where video consultations will be conducted.
Moving patient records to the cloud will also help clinicians access crucial information including high resolution images from anywhere in the country which will improve patient safety and speed up appointments.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained why upgrading broadband is such an important part of delivering these changes, saying:
“Every day, our NHS staff do amazing work – but too often they are let down by outdated and unreliable technology.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. 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.”
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