NHS England has committed to rolling out free, public WiFi in every GP practice by the end of this year to better connect them to local health clinics and allow patients to access health information and apps.
Twenty CCG areas, covering 1,000 practices and five million patients have already received funding and will have fully operational WiFi in all of their practices by the end of the financial year.
Pulse reported the NHS’s was considering rolling out wireless internet across the health service back in 2015, when they said it would save ‘billions by reducing the time staff spend tied to terminals’.
But at the time GP leaders said there weren’t obvious benefits to practices ‘beyond giving patients something to do in the waiting room’, and said NHS England should prioritise the basics over ‘bells and whistles’.
Practices are the vanguard for the wireless rollout across the rest of the NHS and have been prioritised because installation will be easier in smaller organisations.
An NHS Digital updates said: ‘NHS WiFi is a response to patient feedback asking for free Wi-Fi services to be introduced in NHS locations.’
Practices were also warned that they ‘must allow reasonable access to their site for all the survey, installation, and commissioning work that is required’.
Practices with existing WiFi could have their current arrangements reviewed to ensure the service is in line with new standards for all digital suppliers, the update added.
Director of digital experience at NHS England, Juliet Bauer, said the programme will open up ‘online pharmacy services and approved patient apps’ to patients and let GPs ‘maximise the benefits of new technologies’.
She added: ‘Patients will be able to access their GP record online through the Patient Online portal whilst in their consultation, empowering them to take more of an active role in discussing and managing their condition, which we know leads to better health outcomes.’
Where WiFi is being rolled out first
The 20 early adopter areas who were allocated funding in January and will have ‘fully implemented’ WiFi in practices by the end of March, are:
- NHS Bolton CCG
- NHS Brent CCG
- NHS Bury CCG
- NHS Central London (Westminster) CCG
- NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG
- NHS Ealing CCG
- NHS Greenwich CCG
- NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG
- NHS Harrow CCG
- NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG
- NHS Hounslow CCG
- NHS Lewisham CCG
- NHS North Tyneside CCG
- NHS North West Surrey CCG
- NHS Richmond CCG
- NHS South Tees CCG
- NHS South Tyneside CCG
- NHS Swale CCG
- NHS West London CCG
- NHS Wolverhampton CCG
Source: NHS Digital