Major telecoms firms agree free calls, data and broadband upgrades for NHS staff
Fourteen companies agree to provide gratis services and updates
The UK’s biggest telecoms and internet firms have agreed to provide free calls, minutes and broadband upgrades for NHS staff.
A total of 14 companies have reached an agreement with government and the NHS whereby clinicians and other health-service workers will be given additional minutes and calls or free upgrades to higher-speed internet packages.
Front-line NHS workers – who will be automatically identified and flagged up to their incumbent mobile provider – will be given additional texts, calls, and data to allow them “to work remotely without fear of extra charges and limitations”, the government said.
Staff that are relying on their broadband connection to perform clinical duties will automatically be provided with extra bandwidth – a process which will likely take several weeks.
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NHS staff outside of front-line roles might also be eligible to receive upgrades and additional services, but may need to register to do so with their telecoms providers, or during a triage process conducted by their employer.
The government said: “More detailed information will be given to NHS staff in due course.”
In addition to boosting services for health-service workers, telecoms companies will provide additional mobile data allowances for vulnerable citizens that do not have a fixed broadband connection.
They will also “improve connectivity in care homes that have slow, or no, broadband connections, wherever possible”, according to the government.
The 14 companies that have agreed to provide extra services or upgrades: BT – including EE and Openreach; Sky; TalkTalk; Virgin Media; O2; Three; Vodafone; Cityfibre; Gigaclear; Tesco Mobile; giffgaff, Hyperoptic; and KCOM.
The firms will work with NHSX and NHS England over the coming weeks to roll out the service improvements.
Secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden said: “These welcome commitments will mean frontline NHS staff can use personal phones for work purposes without limits or extra charges, allow GPs to carry out consultations and transfer large files from home, and help vulnerable people who depend most on the NHS for care. I applaud the NHS for its continued fight to save lives, and mobile and broadband companies who have stepped up yet again to help in the national effort.”
More information on what each provider will be offering NHS staff is available here.
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