Most GP surgeries and hospitals offering free WiFi

Author: Ingrid Torjesen

Free NHS WiFi is now available in 6,749 GP practices and 212 acute, mental health and community NHS trusts across England, NHS Digital says.

To date 95% of GP practices and 98% of NHS trusts are offering the service meaning that NHS Digital surpassed its target to have 95% coverage in GP practices and NHS trusts by 31 March 2019. The remaining four trusts and 10 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are set to be live by the end of the year.

Free NHS WiFi has a range of benefits for patients and staff, including enabling them to stay connected to friends and family using messaging services, empowering patients to monitor and look after their own health better using digital health services, and helping keep injured children entertained in A&E.

Reliable access to a WiFi network has ensured staff have timely access to health information, which has reduced frustration and wasted time for practice staff, increased satisfaction for patients and increased health economies for CCGs. Staff are able to work more flexibly around offices, avoid network delays and share notes with colleagues more easily in real-time.

Bury CCG, responsible for a combination of 30 GP practices and medical centres, were early adopters of NHS WiFi. Jo Panter, practice manager said, "The practice staff have found having the WiFi to enable laptops and tablets to be used for meetings has made a really positive impact and has changed our approach to the structure of practice meetings."

Whilst in a GP practice or hospital setting, patients are able to access information about their condition, treatment and prescriptions, which they can then discuss with their clinician, and also book further appointments or order repeat prescriptions.

Clinical staff can direct patients to apps that can monitor their condition, or record information that is shared with their care team to support decision making. Patients can also access apps that help them communicate with medical staff to understand their health needs better using images, photos and text.

Mark Nicholas, clinical lead for the programme at NHS Digital said: “It’s great to have so many patients already connected to free WiFi, empowering them to take more control over their own health through access to digital services. I’m really pleased that the service is being used for such a wide variety of health reasons.”