Local councils also stand to miss out on significant savings, with 5G-enabled technologies having the potential to reduce social care spending by 5%. On top of the £40 million 5G Innovation Regions funding currently available to councils, this would help plug the existing gap in social care funding. The findings, calculated by WPI Economics, come as projections show the ageing population will put an increasing strain on the NHS and social services in the years to come, with £79 billion of public spending required to meet these needs. 5G-enabled technologies will be essential in addressing these challenges.
Vodafone said: “The 5G network will enable more patient care to be delivered remotely. For patients at home, 5G will enable high quality and high-speed video connections, enabling doctors to deliver quality care quickly and efficiently. This will empower people to better manage their health, allowing them to live independently for longer, and could prevent people from needing additional care either in the home or in non-residential settings. The NHS has already recognised the importance of this technology for bringing down waiting times and reducing hospital stays, and is due to introduce remote care for 10,000 patients from this month.”.
Vodafone says that residents and staff within care homes will also stand to benefit from 5G roll-out. It added: “Monitoring via sensors could help staff monitor residents in real time, improving care and alleviating staff burnout. Between care providers and hospitals, data transmission becomes easier, faster, and more secure.”
Vodafone says that trials have shown that ‘these innovative measures’ could save £296,000 per 100 users per year, equivalent to nearly £1bn based on the current number of users of public social care services. With this number set to increase by 61% by 2038, it says the roll-out of 5G could save up to £17.5 bn over the same period. However, these savings will not materialise unless nationwide 5G is rolled out quickly, the telecoms giant claims.
Ahmed Essam, CEO of Vodafone UK (pictured), said: “5G technology has the potential to transform how health and social care is delivered in this country, and unlock £1 bn of annual savings for the NHS. 5G will support breakthroughs like at-home health scanning, personal devices, and real-time access to medical expertise – innovations that will drive better health outcomes. To fully capture this potential, we need to rapidly build nationwide 5G coverage. Our proposed merger with Three UK will give us the scale to accelerate investment in digital infrastructure, allowing everyone to see the benefits of 5G roll-out faster.