VM02 connects UK's first 5G hospital
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Front of Royal Bethlem Hospital in Beckenham Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham (credit: slam.nhs.uk)

Virgin Media O2 Business has switched on the UK’s first 5G-connected hospital having announced it has built a private network at Bethlem Royal Hospital in south London.

VM02 has teamed up with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), NHS Digital, Bruhati and Nokia to host a series of digital health trials spanning areas including Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Pilots at the Bethlem Royal Hospital will investigate the efficiency, safety and security of using 5G technologies to improve care, drive efficiency and reduce waste.

Stuart MacLellan, acting CIO at SLaM, said: “Exploring and using the latest technology supports our core strategic aim to deliver outstanding mental health care for people who use our services, their carers and families.

“We are proud to be partnering with Virgin Media O2 Business to create the UK’s first 5G-connected hospital, which enables us to use digital innovations to improve patient outcomes. This is a very exciting step forward.”

According to VM02, 5G-connected observations (eObs) will allow clinicians to update patient records digitally and make live observations, using a private cellular network that offers greater reliability and security than Wi-Fi. The NHS Trust claimed that if successful, the trial will help support patient rounds taking less time and collecting more accurate data.

Alongside this, the trial will see IoT tech be used to ensure medicines are stored at optimum temperature, to track air quality in wards, and monitor occupancy at desks and in meeting rooms. AR applications will help improve IT support and all data will be anonymised, so patient privacy is protected.

Mike Smith, large enterprise director at VM02 Business, said: “The NHS has been a cornerstone of British society for nearly 75 years, and today, we’re proud to announce the switch-on of the UK’s first 5G-connected hospital – showing how next-generation technology can help create a smarter, modern healthcare service for everyone,” said

“Our aim is to map out the rollout of wireless and smart hospital connectivity across the NHS estate over the next three to five years. Trials like this are the embodiment of our mission to upgrade the UK, and a clear sign of the role we can play in helping to shape the NHS of the future.”

Last year, VM02 announced plans to upgrade its entire network to full fibre with symmetrical upload and download speeds by 2028 and began trials with Samsung’s 4G and 5G telecoms equipment on its live mobile network.

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