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N3 enabling 21st Century healthcare for the NHS

N3 is one of the largest Virtual Private Networks in Europe with in excess of 51,000 connections (September 2012), 63 points of presence and employing over 12,000 km fibre. N3 provides the NHS Internet Gateway serving 1.3 million employees.

N3 benefits more than 60 million citizens through the NHS. N3 underpins the NHS National Programme for IT, the world's largest civilian IT programme and enables all National Applications including:

  • The electronic booking service, Choose and Book - offering patients greater choice of hospitals and more convenience in the date and time of their appointment. More than 14 million Choose and Book bookings have been made over N3.
  • Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions (ETP) - to make prescribing and dispensing safer, easier and more convenient for patients. Over 180 million prescription messages have been transmitted over N3.
  • Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) - to capture, store, display and distribute digital medical images, enabling faster, more accurate diagnosis. 1million images stored every single day.
  • The NHS Care Records Service (NHS CRS) - with an individual electronic NHS Care Record for every patient in England. 581,000 users registered for access to the Spine, with 248,000 Summary Care Records now up to the Spine. Eventually 50million records will be stored with the highest levels of security and authentication.

The N3 broadband infrastructure has become the enabler for innovative IT solutions. Kent and Medway Community of Interest network allows cardiac surgeons to transmit angiogram images of the heart rapidly for review by specialists in London, leading to faster diagnosis and treatment. Previously angiograms were saved to CD and sent with patients to the specialist treatment centres for diagnosis but now Kent's patients are connected with the expertise of London's top specialists in minutes.

An innovative telestroke service at NHS Surrey enables consultants working out of hours to view high-definition quality video conferencing images of stroke patients via a N3 Community of Interest Network (CoIN). It enables them to offer advice on appropriate treatment without having to see the patient first-hand within the optimum treatment window; giving the patient the best chance of recovery.

The West London Cancer Network and the Sussex Cancer Network (SCN) are just two examples of Cancer Networks that have found that N3 enables them to utilise videoconferencing technology for their Multi Disciplinary meetings. Allowing the use of various mediums including X-rays, microscope views, patient notes, video information and videos of the clinicians speaking across multiple sites.