Telco BT has revealed it is close to completing the national broadband network that will support the National Programme for IT, the £6.2bn project to update the NHS’s IT systems in England.
More than 15,000 sites in England have now been connected to this private network – known as N3 – meaning the roll-out is 85 per cent on its way to completion. BT believes it will connect all 18,000 sites in England – including hospitals and GP surgeries – by the target date of March 2007.
BT was awarded the £530m contract for N3 in February 2004 along with the local service provider contract for London and the contract to build the central patient record database known as the "Spine".
Andy Green, chief executive of BT's Global Services division, said: "BT is very pleased with the progress it is making on its various NHS contracts. This is a challenging project - and we have learnt lessons along the way - but we are now in good shape.
"N3 is an area where we have made some of the strongest progress. We have quietly created Europe’s largest virtual private network that will connect every NHS site in England, enabling information to travel at great speeds between those sites. We are also rolling out a similar network in Scotland," he said.
"This is an important achievement as N3 underpins the whole programme to modernise the NHS. It’s fair to say that the foundations are now in place for this important programme," added Green.
Patrick O’Connell, managing director of BT Health, added: "This is a tremendous achievement for BT and the network providers we have contracted with. We have gained momentum and we are on schedule to hit the end goal of 18,000 connections in England by March 2007."
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