Virgin Media O2 powers first 5G hospital in the UK

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust now hosts the first hospital in the UK to be connected to 5G infrastructure, activated by Virgin Media O2 Business

Virgin Media O2‘s private 5G network will provide connectivity for mission-critical digital health use cases for clinicians and patients in the trust, which offers an extensive portfolio of mental health services.

The efficiency, safety and security benefits of using smart, 5G-connected technologies in NHS hospitals — including the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) — is a key focus of the project.

This development is part of a series of digital health and innovation trials, undertaken by Maudsley Digital Lab and funded by NHS Digital.

“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,” said Stuart MacLellan, acting chief information officer at South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust.

“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.”

Mike Smith, large enterprise & public sector director at Virgin Media O2 Business, commented: “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.

“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.”

Hospital use cases

Trials of the Maudsley Smart Hospital and Maudsley Smart Pharmacy are now live across two wards at Bethlem Royal Hospital in South London.

Here, ‘e-Observations’, where clinicians use handheld devices to update patient records, are being trialled in the aim to save valuable time and improve accuracy.

The hospital also looks to link up smart devices and monitoring to reduce expensive medicine waste and track air quality in wards.

Additionally, anonymised heat maps presented using AI tool Spatial Insights will allow for improved planning of space in public areas, while IT teams will have access to expert maintenance support in other hospitals thanks to an augmented reality (AR) tool called ‘Remote Expert’.

The 5G trial is a collaborative development between South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Digital, Virgin Media O2 Business, Bruhati and Nokia.

“This is a landmark moment for the UK telecoms and healthcare sectors,” said Kester Mann, technology analyst and director, consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight.

“Dedicated 5G in hospitals can open the door to a range of new applications such as real-time tracking of patients’ conditions, remote support and round-the-clock monitoring of medicines and equipment.

“Its high throughput and low-latency characteristics can also improve the efficiency and security of existing operations, making healthcare services smarter, more accurate and more effective.”


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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