A private fibre optic network is the communication solution for the largest healthcare modernisation programme in the North East.

Overview

Data communication is now a critical component in the smooth running of our hospitals and healthcare system. Patient records, clinical data and appointment systems require a high speed, resilient network to transfer information between departments and hospital sites.

Newcastle’s £304 million project to transform the healthcare provision in the region is due for completion in 2012. It is the biggest healthcare modernisation programme in the North East and one of the largest in the country.

Challenge

Construction is underway to transfer all the services currently provided at Newcastle General Hospital to new, state-of-the-art facilities at two other hospitals, The Freeman Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has taken this opportunity to install a new network between the two hospitals. After researching the market, the Trust brought us on board to deliver a future proofed communications infrastructure offering world class performance, at a lower cost than the previous network provider.

Bob Beckwith, Data and Telecommunications Network Manager explains: “We have used a fibre optic network for a number of years but our old system was leased and the cost was linked to the speed of the traffic over the network. So, just like with home broadband, you pay more to utilise the faster speeds. The cost had become too high for the speed that we need now, let alone in the future. With a private fibre optic network, we will have control. It will be up to us to determine the speed we want by simply upgrading our network kit. And, by signing up to a 15 year contract we can predict what our future costs will be.”

Solution

The Freeman Hospital and Royal Victoria Infirmary were linked by a dark fibre network, enabling IT and telecoms networks to run with virtually unlimited bandwidth. Deployment methods were chosen which minimised both cost and disruption to the local environment. Linking the two hospital sites are two 4km runs of cable. The installation required negotiations with a number of other organizations, including the local council which gave permission for the cable to be laid through a local park. The network comprises two cables, each containing six fibre pairs linking the two hospitals. Each of the cables has been laid independently along a different route to guard against accidental damage in order to ensure resilience of the system. The network links all hospital departments, housing between them around 12,000 staff working from 8,000 computer terminals.

Results

The dedicated private network has delivered the capacity, speed and resilience that Newcastle NHS needed. Beckwith sums up: “Our hospitals are reliant on our e-records system to cope with more than a million patients every year. We know fibre optic is resilient and can deliver the performance and speed we need. In CityFibre we have found a partner who understands our requirements and can create a bespoke communications infrastructure with the bandwidth and speed flexibility to enable us to scale up if and when we want to without increasing our future costs.”

“Our hospitals are reliant on our e-records system to cope with more than a million patients every year. We know fibre optic is resilient and can deliver the performance and speed we need.

Key Benefits
• High capacity • Faster speeds • Greater performance • Resilience • Scalable for the future

Read the Newcastle NHS case study here

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