British technology giant BT has partnered with a southern coast NHS trust to develop an infrastructure network that connects hundreds of organisations across health and social care.

BT and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust signed a multi-million pound five-year deal on 30 August to create the network, which will connect 390 NHS sites across the region.

The network will enable NHS and social care organisations across the county to create dedicated virtual networks.

Andy Bissenden, associate director of digital at the trust, said in a statement that the move “will benefit the whole health economy by ensuring we can provide better and timely information sharing across health and social care in Sussex and our bordering county’s organisations.”

The infrastructure is expected to provide a common and reliable platform that will help GPs when they use electronic patient records.

In 2012, the trust was looking to spend more than £50 million on IT over the next five to seven years.

Mark Sexton, BT’s regional director for London and the south east, business and public sector, said in a statement that the NHS in the region “needed a scalable network that enabled the sharing of critical patient information across different local sites”.

“Clinicians will now be able to access and share information using the same, secure, cloud-based platform to meet the needs of the 1.6 million patients across Sussex.”

“For example, local GPs and hospitals will be connected on the same communications infrastructure for the first time enabling faster patient diagnosis and treatment.”

The supplier suggested that as it is working on similar network projects with NHS organisations across the region, “this could facilitate some of the first and largest HSCN regional networks in England”.

In January 2017, NHS Digital awarded a £12 million contract to Redcentric for the new NHS network, HSCN (Health and Social Care Network). The network is designed to replace the existing N3, the private national broadband network that allows NHS organisations to communicate securely and access national applications such as the NHS Spine.

The contract for N3, which was supplied by BT, expired in March this year. The firm is an accredited supplier for HSCN.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, published September 2015, recommended that East Sussex be put into special measures, with access to patient records cited as an area that needs improvement.

However, a subsequent inspection in October 2016, improved the rating to “requires improvement” with record keeping issues “largely addressed”.

East Sussex provides acute hospital and community health services, with most provided from two district general hospitals.