All NHS hospitals and GP practices to have full fibre
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to work to get all NHS hospitals and GP surgeries connected to full fibre, this is in addition to plans that should see 70% of these premises connected with leased lines (business grade full fibre service) by August 2020.
The push was announced in a speech to the Royal College of General Practitioners on 30th April who have also launched their own tech manifesto to push to make the best use of technology within the NHS.
There are around 7,454 GP practices and we did look for a simple figure of how many NHS hospitals exist but beyond the number of trusts this information is not obvious online, but certaintly it is a lot less than some years ago due to the amount of mergers and effeciency savings made in the last few decades. If there is any decent sized hospitals (we would suggest this to mean those with 24 hour A&E department) without a full fibre leased line service today then the management have some serious questions to answer as to why. The full text of the speech does not appear to be available but we would hope that this promise of 100% also includes various other clinic buildings that exist for a wide variety of purposes.
Every day, our NHS staff do amazing work – but too often they are let down by outdated and unreliable technology.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.Extracts from Matt Hancock, Health Secretary speech on 30th April 2019
In a speech a few days earlier the Health Secretary addressed the obvious concern that technology may be used to replace the all important human element.
But, truth be told, we haven’t always been there enough for every member of the NHS family. Or helped everyone realise their potential.
Too often, we’ve chosen confrontation when collaboration was the way to settle our differences. And too often we’ve lost talented people because we haven’t done enough to convince them to stay.
The worry people will have is that good speeches are cheap and easy to make and what NHS staff want to see is a larger workforce and an end to things like posts not being filled when existing staff leave to go and work in the private sector or leave the sector completely. The promise of more technology and better connectivity is welcome but for too long the investment in the human face of the NHS seems to have been shrinking which means the staff left are all too often stressed and overworked and this comes from someone who may have only worked in the NHS for 5 years but is part a family that has worked or is still working for the NHS for much longer periods.
Exactly how the full fibre for every GP and hospital will be delivered and who will do it is a big unknown, given the autonomy of the various trusts it seems likely the edict will be made centrally and exactly how each area delivers will be down to them.
A final thought, video conference consultations have the potential to help avoid travel for patients and the boring wait in a waiting room but also in an era where concern over social isolation is increasing this needs to be carefully balanced to avoid an older generation who feel confined to their homes. For the digitally disengaged a rapid switch to online consultation also has the potential to make it harder to see their GP e.g. rather than a GP tour around two or three smaller surgeries these may close and one super surgery exist serving a larger footprint.