Headlines: January 21st, 2002

Barnsley has become the latest council to form a strategic partnership for delivering a wide range of services with BT. The goals of the partnership, which is due to begin in April, are expected to take between seven and twelve years to achieve. Overall the partnership could result in substantial savings to the council once computer equipment and infrastructure systems have been put in place. The services will include a contact center, one-stop shops and flexible payment methods. Barnsley now joins Edinburgh and Liverpool City councils who also have formed strategic partnerships with BT.In Scotland BT are to operate the local version of NHS Direct. NHS 24, which unlike its counterparts in England and Wales, will be integrated with electronic health-records. It will also be linked to GP practices, accident and emergency departments and the ambulance service to enable the immediate transfer of data. The service could eventually become a repository of health records accessible wherever they are needed in emergencies. NHS 24 will be launched in the Grampian area in spring 2002. It will cover the whole of Scotland in 2004.

In Wales, BT has a strategic partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. The partnership embraces a community call center together with a call center training facility. Following graduation from the three week training course, trainees are able to gain experience and confidence in the nursery call centre, where they answer live calls on behalf of public sector bodies, before seeking employment in a commercial call centre.