Celebrating and supporting our NHS through the Covid-19 crisis

By Fotis Karonis, CTIO Enterprise

Once again on Thursday evening, we came together as a nation in a collective round of applause to recognise the amazing efforts of NHS staff, emergency services and other key workers who are helping us all to get through the coronavirus crisis.

Like the national applause we’ve seen in previous weeks, it was a very emotional but uplifting moment, as we joined together to salute their hard work and commitment. This is particularly true of the NHS staff and care workers who are battling the worst of the crisis and risk contracting the virus themselves whilst treating and caring for others.

I know I speak for many people in saying that a national healthcare service which is free at the point of delivery is something well worth celebrating and protecting. That’s why the NHS holds such a special place in the nation’s hearts – and never more so than right now.

At BT we feel keenly our responsibility for helping the NHS respond to the pandemic. As a provider of critical national communications infrastructure, we’re responding to more than 100 bespoke requests for help across various central government departments, with half of these being driven by the NHS. We know the enormity and tremendous gravity of the task ahead of them, so we’re putting all hands to the pumps to assist NHS Trusts and hospitals up and down the country.

I’m very proud to say that we are doing this at breakneck speed - that’s thanks to our own key workers and technology partners who are working weekends and overnight to get the job done.  

Connecting temporary hospitals:

For example, we’ve been tasked with getting the new Nightingale field hospitals around the country connected as quickly as possible. Within just 48 hours of being asked to help stand up the Nightingale hospital at London’s ExCel, we had installed 1000 IP Phones and the high-speed connectivity required, working with our infrastructure partner, Openreach. This involved more than 60 people across BT and our technology partners galvanising their efforts and working at speed to support the national effort.

Our teams and partners are rallying around each other like never before and it’s really inspiring to see. That’s enabling us to provide additional connections to NHS trusts and hospitals in record time, often within the space of 24 hours.

Helping families stay in touch with loved ones in intensive care units:

We’ve also been working with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust on their Life Lines Project, which allows relatives to see and speak to their loved ones being treated in intensive care units via a tablet.

Using a secure app, families can meet the clinical team, ask questions and stay in touch with their loved one whilst they’re isolated in intensive care. It can be really distressing for families, patients and intensive care staff if they can’t see and speak to one another – particularly for the critically ill and those who are sadly reaching the end of their lives. But with the help of this new solution, families can visit them at their bedside virtually. It’s a really powerful example of how technology can greatly enhance care for patients, and again, we were able to turn our part in the solution around in just three working days. A huge thanks to our partners Google, Samsung and MobileIron who have helped us to donate a large number of 4G enabled tablets secured by Android Enterprise and which are fully loaded with the app.

Through the Life Lines project, we’re aiming to equip every ICU in the country with the same secure solution via 4G enabled tablets, working with more technology partners. To enable the connectivity to support Life Lines, BT can also provide ICUs with a 4G Wi-Fi hub which can be self-installed by clinicians.

Supporting the national public health effort:

Beyond this, we are also working with the Government to support the national public health effort to help protect citizens and the NHS from being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases. Our Smart Messaging platform is being used by over 400 organisations across the NHS for use cases such as Covid-19 related patient communications and appointment reminders. We’ve also sent SMS alerts on behalf of Gov.uk to around 43 million customers on our mobile network with clear advice to stay at home. While our 500 digital Street Hubs across the country, and even the BT Tower info banner, are being used to push out the latest public health messaging.

We’re also offering unlimited mobile data for our incredible NHS staff until 9 October 2020. We really hope in doing this, we’re able to give them one less thing to worry about. Healthcare professionals can stay connected with friends and family without thinking about their data. This is just another step we’re taking to thank those in the NHS that are working so hard for us all.

In times of crisis, we know it’s essential that people pull together. We’re seeing literally hundreds of examples of this right across BT as our teams and technology partners work around the clock to make sure we’re playing our part in the national response. We’ll continue to collaborate, innovate, and challenge ourselves to do the very best we can to help the NHS respond to and manage the current crisis. From answering every emergency 999 call made in the UK, to virtual desktop solutions to allow GPs to securely access patient records and systems from home, and working with local schools and volunteers to make 3D-printed protective masks for NHS staff - a huge thank you to our colleagues and partners who are helping us do all we can to support our NHS.

Stay safe everyone.


About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, BT Group’s reported revenue was £23,428m with reported profit before taxation of £2,666m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London stock exchange.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com