Millions of patients in England now have access to free NHS WiFi in hospitals and GP practices, NHS Digital has announced.
Free internet connection is available in 6,749 GP practices – 95% of the total number of GP surgeries in England – and 212 acute, mental health and community NHS trusts across England.
NHS Digital said that the four remaining trusts and the ten CCGs that do not yet offer the service in their areas are ‘all underway with their own procurements and set to be live this year’.
In a statement on its website, NHS Digital said that the remaining 2% of trusts that do not currently provide free WiFi ‘have experienced delays due to wider network changes’ but will offer it by December 2019.
Initially, NHS Digital said that GP practices would offer free WiFi by December 2017, with secondary care providers to follow in 2018.
However, only 43% of GP practices offered free WiFi as of March last year.
Earlier this month, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced that all NHS organisations will soon be upgraded with fibre-optic broadband, as part of the long-term plan.
This will help doctors offer more digital services, such as video consultations.
Benefits to patients and staff
NHS Digital said that the benefits of free NHS WiFi include helping patients look after their own health better, keep ‘injured children entertained in A&E’, and increase patient satisfaction.
It allows NHS staff to work ‘more remotely around offices’ without having to sit at their desk and helps them share notes with colleagues more easily.
NHS Digital clinical lead for the WiFi programme Mark Nicholas 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.’