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Health sector ISP attacked by hospital staff

Private service at odds with NHS' existing network

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A subscription-free ISP offering to plough its profits back into the cash-strapped National Health Service (NHS) has come under fire from the very people it claims it will help. NHSpeople.net is aimed at people who work in the health service but is facing allegations that it is in competition with the NHS' own secure internal network, NHSnet. NHSnet -- which is owned and run by BT and Cable & Wireless -- is not without its knockers though. A recent report by the BBC's Newsnight claimed many clinicians and health trusts had lost confidence in the service saying it was neither secure nor reliable. Barry James, a director of NHSpeople.net, said: "There are thousands of doctors, clinicians and NHS managers who are frustrated at the limitations of the current Internet provision within the NHS, who are crying out for reliable, secure electronic communications." This particular storm in a bedpan has also dumped itself on the doorstep of the government. "There's a fair bit of fretting and fuming going on at the Department of Health (DoH)," said James. "They see this [NHSpeople.net] as potentially stepping on their toes," he said. He may be right. The Register has learned that some of the staff working on the NHSnet project have expressed their concerns about the new service. And while the official line from the DoH is that it views NHSpeople.net as any other commercial provider, a spokesman made it clear that the service was not endorsed by the NHS. It's also investigating whether NHSpeople.net is in breach of any trading laws since it is using the name and logo of the NHS. "It looks like it is accredited by the NHS but it is not," said a spokesman at the DoH, worried that it might mislead some people. NHSnet is part of a seven-year £1 billion project to modernise the NHS by using wired services to speed up referrals, obtain patient information and allow hospitals to communicate with one another more quickly. ®

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