COVID-19 has changed the way most of our GPs work – bringing online and eConsultations to the fore.
Investment in online care
Now, a timely investment of almost £2million is ensuring patients in GP practices across East Hertfordshire and West Essex benefit from even better quality online care.
The £1.7m investment from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme will enable GPs in Broxbourne, East Herts, Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford districts, to potentially deliver more healthcare remotely, online and through digital applications.
This is possible through a ‘full fibre’ broadband network providing ultrafast digital connectivity, capable of speeds up to 1Gbps – up to 30 times faster than superfast broadband.
These capabilities have become vitally important during the COVID-19 pandemic in making online, remote and digital access a necessity. The project will help to make local health providers more resilient in the future with increased capacity for online activity.
Greater use of digital technology
The Essex + Herts Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ) project is already at the detailed planning and delivery stage – led by Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council with support from Hertfordshire County Council, Broxbourne, East Herts, Harlow and Uttlesford district councils. It will be delivered on behalf of local health partners by Openreach in partnership with Capita Updata and Redcentric and is due to complete by March 2021.
In addition, the new broadband network built to the surgeries will also support future demand for fibre broadband from the thousands of residential and business properties located in the local areas around the surgeries. This will support local people to make greater use of digital technology to access the health and care services they need as well as the wider benefits of enhanced high-speed connectivity.
This is one of a number of projects to be awarded funding under the LFFN programme and the first project of its kind to focus the network build specifically around local GP surgeries. The project has been developed in conjunction with Essex County Council’s Superfast Essex programme, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (WECCG) and Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Luton ICT Shared Services (HBLICT).
Bringing the benefits of digital services to all
Cllr Alan Lion, Chair of the Essex + Herts Digital Innovation Zone and Epping Forest DC Digital Champion and lead Member said:
Our aim is to make our area the best-connected place of its type in the UK, bringing the benefits of digital services to all.
This project and the infrastructure it will provide will give our GPs the capacity to provide the latest and best digital health and care services to our residents. The funding award by DCMS is a recognition of the innovative work that is going on in our place and I’d like to thank Essex County Council and our health partners from across Hertfordshire and Essex that have supported this successful bid.
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