Headlines: January 20th, 2003

The NHS is upgrading NHSNet, the network that connects 4000 sites, including hospitals and GP surgeries, with Broadband connections. The upgrade will cost 45 million pounds and be carried out by Cable and Wireless, the existing network supplier. It will provide faster and more reliable connections for GPs to book hospital appointments for patients online and also ensure that patients’ details are available to clinical staff where and when they are needed. Health professionals will benefit from better access to the knowledge they need for diagnosis and decision support. The upgrade will also bring new services such as the electronic transfer of prescriptions between GPs, hospitals and pharmacists.The NHS has more than 600,000 e-mail addresses in use. Last year the monthly volume of messages sent across the NHS network increased from 76 to 106 million.

Procurement of an electronic patient record system is due to start shortly following successful trials. One of the trials involved the development of an integrated health and social care record system. Partners in the trial included NHS trusts, the ambulance service, NHS Direct – the health service helpline and the county council.