Telemedicine: Older People

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written question – answered at on 22 April 2024.

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Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what estimate she has made of the average cost per household of replacing a telecare system to accommodate the BT Digital Voice migration in (a) a private residence, (b) a retirement housing community and (c) a care home; and whether these costs include the provision of (i) battery backup systems and (ii) replacement of associated systems such as (A) lift alarms, (B) fire safety alarms and (C) intercom equipment.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Given the range of telecare systems, lifeline alarm systems or remote ringers available on the market, we cannot definitively provide cost estimates for replacing a device. Telecare devices can come with a range of potential add-ons that may increase costs, including but not limited to additional power resilience (such as multi-SIM connectivity solutions); personalised support (such as a dedicated helpline); and/or additional monitoring (such as tracking health data like heart rate or blood pressure).

It should be noted that the migration from analogue to digital landlines (also known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) migration) is not specific to BT; other telecoms providers are also upgrading their analogue lines. Furthermore, the telecoms industry is not responsible for the provision or maintenance of telecare devices.

The government is working closely with telecoms companies, Local Authorities and telecare services providers to understand how the migration may impact telecare users and what more can be done to mitigate risks associated with the migration. For example, all major communications providers (including BT and Virgin Media O2) have signed up to a PSTN Charter where they commit not to migrate telecare users without a full confirmation that they have a compatible and functioning telecare solution in place.

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