Pledge by telecommunications industry to support NHS during COVID-19
Companies such as BT, Virgin Media and Sky have committed to support the NHS with its increased need for connectivity as many essential services have moved online.
WHY IT MATTERS
Because of the strictures presented by the government to try and stop the spread of COVID-19, there has been a shift towards a digital-first approach where possible in the NHS. This means an increased number of remote consultations with many clinicians having to use their personal devices to conduct them.
In response, these major companies have agreed to provide confirmed NHS workers with the data, call and text access they need to offer remote consultations at no extra cost. They will upgrade NHS workers’ broadband speeds as required to facilitate remote work, sometimes at no extra cost. They will also improve connectivity in care homes and supply full-scale telecoms access to the emergency hospitals being built to combat the virus.
THE LARGER PICTURE
The full list of companies is as follows: BT/EE, Openreach, Sky, talktalk, Virgin Media, O2, Three, Vodafone, Cityfibre, Gigaclear, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff, Hyperoptic and KCOM.
The companies will identify staff who need the aforementioned improvements without them having to contact their providers themselves. It may take several weeks for these changes to be processed.
ON THE RECORD
In response to the announcement, NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould said: “COVID-19 has made stark the importance of technology in helping people and those who care for them stay connected. Technology has the potential to be a tremendous force for good in helping the country and its citizens through the crisis, and we are grateful to industry colleagues for offering their support to the NHS.”
Tom Denyard, CEO of Tesco Mobile said: “We know how hard NHS staff are working at the moment and we want to help keep the frontline staff connected. This is a way to show our appreciation for the remarkable job they’re doing to help the nation. We hope that providing increased connectivity will allow them to continue their incredible efforts – we really can’t thank them enough.”