Rapid deployment


In this taster for the June BAPCO Journal, Philip Mason talks to BT’s principal tech partner, health and social care, Keiron Salt, about the company’s commission to roll-out Wi-Fi at UK COVID-19 vaccination centres.

When did the work on the vaccination centres begin? What was the original brief from the NHS?

The whole thing’s been very focussed since December. We’ve had about 50 people dedicated to this project since Christmas, kitting out mega vaccination centres as well as other smaller sites around the country. At this point, there’s been about 180 vaccination centres set up with Wi-Fi and fibre connectivity, allowing for critical, reliable access to the back-end NHS systems.

Going more deeply into the brief, we’ve done everything from nightclubs and village halls to conference centres and office blocks. In between we’ve provided connectivity to football stadiums and tents in the middle of fields, depending how the roll-out has been structured in a particular location. We also provided connectivity for the Nightingale hospitals.

This is a massive thing for the UK – the biggest vaccination programme in history. It honestly makes me incredibly proud. My wife’s a clinician in the NHS, so the level of satisfaction is immense.

How closely have you worked with NHS England?

There’s been a huge level of collaboration, stretching back, as I mentioned, to the end of last year. They let us know that the vaccination programme was coming, and we pulled the team together from across BT within a day. We’ve got people from all kinds of disciplines working on this project – delivery and service, technical architects and so on.

In the initial stages, we met with NHS England every day for about three weeks. That involved chatting through things in a really collaborative way, regarding the programme and what the technology options were.

It was such a rapid process. None of the vaccines had even been licensed when we first started to talk last November.

How are the Wi-Fi networks being used? 

NHS staff are using the networks to access the NHS back-end systems, recording the booking process, what vaccine was administered to which patient, levels of stock and so on. The whole thing is based on the NHS HSCN [Health and Social Care Network], which allows NHS Trusts and social care organisations to share personal, identifiable, information in a secure way. 

We’ve designed it to be a fast, reliable, service, underpinned by a really strong service capability. We have a team that monitors the network infrastructure 24/7, so we can get on top of any issues straight away. That’s located at an operations centre located in the UK.

Read the rest of the interview in the latest issue of the BAPCO Journal. 

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Media contact

Philip Mason
Managing Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0)20 3874 9216