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Liverpool scores win with 5G health and social care project

Quality of Mersey is not strained in mobile health communications solutions, with a further £4.3m for 5G-based health and social care innovation to provide safe, free and accessible connectivity to services including health, social care and education

Emulating the silver touch of the local football team, Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care project has brought an extra £4.3m into the city to support vital health and social care technologies as part of a £7.2m project run as part of the UK government’s 5G Create project.

Run by the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), 5G Create is part of the UK’s £200m 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, first announced in January 2020, that is designed to explore new ways that 5G can boost business growth and productivity, and maximise the productivity benefits of new technologies.

In addition, the government introduced 5G Create, designed to look at how 5G infrastructures can create new opportunities in industries such as film, TV, video games, logistics and tourism. It involves seven 5G research and development projects across the UK – five in England, one in Wales and one in Scotland, with plans to expand into Northern Ireland.

Going live in April 2020, 5G Create called for proposals from sectors where the UK has a competitive advantage to use the unprecedented speed, coverage and capacity of 5G to explore and develop new commercial opportunities for it can be used for – including new prototype technologies, use cases and business models – which could then be scaled up, used across the economy and exported.

The Liverpool 5G Create: Connecting Health and Social Care project will develop a private independent 5G network for health and social care services in selected areas of Liverpool. The network is designed to reduce digital poverty for vulnerable people in need, providing safe, free and accessible connectivity to services including health, social care and education.

The project builds on the previous 5G Health and Social Care Testbed in Kensington, Liverpool. Liverpool 5G Create will increase the area covered, upgrade existing mmWave nodes, integrate small cell technology and trial a range of new use cases in health and social care.

The 5G technology will be used to support a medical grade device to manage and monitor health conditions remotely, an app that teaches anxiety reduction techniques, a remote GP triaging service, wound care and management and sensor technology.

The project will run until March 2022 and will develop a blueprint for the use of private 5G networks in delivering public services. The blueprint will be disseminated across public bodies leading to increased use of private networks for public services with reduced risk, based on the DCMS Testbed and Trials Programme.

The consortium is led by the University of Liverpool with partners Liverpool City Council, Blu Wireless Technology, Broadway Partners, Liverpool John Moores University, CGA Simulation, Docobo, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust. The project will be managed and supported by the eHealth Cluster, with further services supplied by Telet Research (NI), Aimes Management Services and Real Wireless.

The consortium said it was looking forward to working with DCMS to take the project from a trial to a wider roll-out that benefits the people of Liverpool and informs the national strategy for digital health and social care services.

Commenting on the new investment, project lead Joe Spencer, a professor at University of Liverpool, said: “This is a great opportunity to build on our previous testbed and develop the British technology that can change people’s lives by enabling affordable connectivity and reducing digital poverty.”

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman added: “5G is not just about having a faster mobile phone, so we’re funding ground-breaking projects across the UK to explore other ways in which the revolutionary technology can make people’s lives better. Coronavirus requires us to look at new ways to provide healthcare remotely to the most vulnerable and I’m delighted to commit further funding to Liverpool’s successful 5G trial working on this issue.”

Liverpool City Council’s Ann Williams remarked: “The recent response to Covid-19 has demonstrated the need for increased use of remote health and social care services. Through this project, we will ensure that services are available to those in need, removing the barriers caused by lack of affordable connectivity.”

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