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Strength of Kent's online networks being tested in case hundreds forced to work from home post-Brexit

Checks are being carried out to ensure Kent's online networks can cope if hundreds of people are forced to work from home post-Brexit.

Health chiefs are mapping out the county's web networks over fears existing home broadband systems would not be able to handle such a spike in demand if employees can't get to work.

Local authorities and business groups have issued regular warnings that Kent's roads could become gridlocked if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal on March 29.

Health chiefs fear a large number of staff working from home could affect broadband speeds.
Health chiefs fear a large number of staff working from home could affect broadband speeds.

Indeed, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council recently revealed it was spending £50,000 on 100 laptops for officers to use remotely in such an event.

The West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, which plans and buys healthcare in the region, is making similar plans, including checks to see who has, and needs, access to virtual private networks, which allow users to connect remotely to their own corporate system.

Futhermore, WhatsApp groups are being set up and Skype conference calls are being considered to help bosses stay in touch from home.

The CCG has also considered the possibility more patients could be transported to hospitals in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells due to difficulties in reaching other trusts in the east of the county, near the ports.

As part of its analysis, it claims commissioners "might want to consider those activities which providers might be permitted to stop doing in the event of unprecedented levels of demand".

Richard Segall Jones, company secretary and head of corporate services at the CCG, told a meeting of its governing body a series of plans were already in place, and that emergency measures had already been tested to an extent last year, when 'The Beast from the East' brought severe snow and ice to the county.

He said: "We've double-checked a range of things about our preparedness, including communication cascades and the ability to work off-site or from home.

"These arrangements should be in place anyway, but because of the potential scale of what may happen in the event of a disorderly exit, we feel it's worth testing.

"I have confidence our plans are robust."

Glenn Douglas, chief executive of the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, added: “In Kent, as across the rest of the country, we plan and rehearse for all eventualities that could disrupt services.

“We have a long history of coping highly effectively with difficulties, whether caused by closure of the motorways, issues affecting the ports, or the vagaries of the weather.

“Our magnificent staff go to great lengths to ensure that people get the healthcare they need without disruption, including those who are housebound, and will continue to do so.

“People can rest assured that the local NHS and care services in Kent and Medway have plans and arrangements in place in readiness for our departure from the European Union.”

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