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Wi-fi to be available across the NHS

Wi-fi to be available across the NHS

The government is looking into Wi-Fi for all NHS hospitals and GP practices, in hopes it will lead to further digital advances, it was revealed at a London conference yesterday
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The government is looking into Wi-Fi for all NHS hospitals and GP practices, in hopes it will lead to further digital advances, it was revealed at a London conference yesterday.

At the Digital Health and Care Congress at The King’s Fund it was revealed that the government’s National Information Board has commissioned research to check the feasibility of free Wi-Fi in every hospital and GP surgery in England.

Currently there is not cohesive coverage, with some organisations charging for Wi-Fi access, others providing it for free in specific areas, and some that offer no service for patients at all.

Once Wi-Fi is provided it's thought that staff can then use wearable devices to remotely monitor patients with long-term problems such as asthma and diabetes, which is though will help with the staff shortage.

Professor Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s national medical director said: “I recently asked a bunch of junior doctors what single change in hospitals would make their jobs easier. I didn’t expect the answer: Wi-Fi. But it makes sense. Wi-Fi offers the opportunity for remote monitoring of patients along with electronic prescribing through portable devices, bringing clinical information directly to the relevant people. Where used, it dramatically reduces errors and increases efficiency.”

The previous large NHS IT scheme, the Connecting for Health programme, was meant to digitise all patient records and make them available to staff across the NHS. It began in 2003 and was expected to cost £2.3bn but the costs rose to £12bn so the scheme was scrapped in 2011.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, said: “I would put a health warning on some of the figures being talked about, but the use of technology and data along with new models of care could save as much as a third [of the £22bn savings needed].”

“Our focus needs to be on how we are going to make the most of this opportunity to solve one of the greatest problems man has ever faced – caring for a growing and ageing population. We are in the middle of finding out how man and science can work in harmony through the use of what is called artificial intelligence.

“Since March 93% of GPs have signed up to providing online appointments, online access to records and online repeat prescriptions. They are to be applauded. The pace at which clinicians are grabbing hold of technological advances is incredible. The prize is an effective healthcare service for all.”

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