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NHS hospitals to get major fibre update

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy)

The NHS is set for a significant technological upgrade thanks to a new government plan aimed at giving hospitals faster internet connectivity.

The Health Secretary has announced plans to upgrade every hospital, GP practice and community care service to full fibre connectivity, giving them superfast internet speeds for the first time.

The upgrade should mean that services such as video consultations can become the norm for GPs, and allow faster access to patient records and research data across NHS networks.

Recent figures suggest that around 40 percent of NHS organisations are struggling to provide such services due to using slow and unreliable internet supplied through copper lines.

The government had previously announced plans to provide 70 percent of NHS ogrnaisations with full fibre connectivity via leased lines by August 2020, but today's announcement states that every hospital, GP practice and community care service should have fibre-to-the-premises (FFTP) connections as soon as possible.

“Every day, our NHS staff do amazing work – but too often they are let down by outdated and unreliable technology," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said unveiling the plan. "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.”

The upgrade forms part of the government's NHS Long Term Plan, a 10-year plan published in January that outlines work to expand and improve online access to NHS services.