All hospitals and GP practices will soon have the fastest fibre optic broadband “to support radical improvements in the range and quality of digital healthcare services promised in the [NHS] long-term plan”, health secretary Matt Hancock announced today (April 30).
When asked by C+D whether community pharmacies would also receive an internet upgrade, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said the sector is “indeed part of the plans”, as pharmacies will be able to “plug into the network to boost their internet speeds too”.
“This will allow GPs and pharmacists to transfer data quicker than ever before,” the DH told C+D. “It will also give pharmacists the bandwidth to support their digital ambitions.”
“Slow and unreliable internet”
Almost 40% of NHS organisations are using “slow and unreliable internet supplied through copper lines”, the DH said in today’s announcement. This “restricts the ability to offer digital services, such as video consultations, to patients”.
Faster broadband connections will help the NHS deliver “dramatic improvements”, Mr Hancock added. “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.”
Existing plans had catered for 70% of NHS organisations to receive “full fibre connectivity via leased lines” by August 2020, but Mr Hancock’s ambition is now for “every hospital, GP practice and community care service to have fibre-to-the-premises connections – which are faster and more reliable – as soon as possible”.