BT has won contracts totalling £36m from five NHS organisations to provide “community of interest” networks combining voice, data and video calls.
The contracts with United Lincolnshire Hospitals trust, North Merseyside Health Informatics Service, Sussex Health Informatics Services, Peterborough and Stamford Hospital foundation trust and the Kent and Medway Health Informatics Service follow a similar contract awarded to BT by the Essex strategic health authority last year.
The networks will take advantage of the N3 broadband network being rolled out as part of the £12.4bn NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT). N3 is nationally funded, but individual NHS organisations can run additional services – such as IP telephony or videoconferencing – over the network as long as these are locally funded.
The community of interest networks are based on Cisco networking routers, switches and security firewall software.
Dr Mario Guarino, director of Kent and Medway Health Informatics Service, said: “We expect the new network will deliver significant networking cost savings for the community. When complete it will link up more than 260 sites, ranging from small sites to large acute hospitals.”
The £530m N3 contract was awarded to BT in February 2004. More than 96% of England’s GP services are now connected to the network.