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Hunt commits to NHS-wide free wi-fi target


All NHS buildings will provide free wi-fi to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience, Jeremy Hunt has pledged.

The health secretary’s commitment follows Baroness Martha Lane-Fox making the provision of free wi-fi across the NHS estate a key recommendation in her report on the NHS and digital innovations published earlier this month.

A Department of Health statement said it would be funded from the £1bn of new investment allocated for NHS technology projects in the comprehensive spending review.

Mr Hunt said: “Everyone using the NHS expects it to be a world leader in digital healthcare and free wi-fi is an essential part of making that a reality. It will give patients and staff the ability to access the services they need as well as freeing up clinical time and reducing overall costs.”

“[Free wi-fi] will give patients and staff the ability to access the services they need as well as freeing up clinical time and reducing overall costs”

Jeremy Hunt

A DH statement said: “The move will allow patients staying in hospital to download apps and learn more about their condition, stay in contact with family and friends, as well as keeping in contact with social networks that can support their recovery.

“It will also reduce the administrative burden on doctors and nurses, freeing up more time to spend with patients. Safer working practices such as e-prescribing will take place, which is known to reduce medication errors by 50 per cent.”

The DH does not have data on how many NHS organisations already provide free wi-fi and no deadline has been set for when the target should be met. It added the pledge was “the latest step” towards a paperless NHS by 2020.

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Jeremy Hunt

At present some hospitals charge for wi-fi while others have no access at all. Some trusts are however providing free wi-fi, with the DH citing Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust and Oxford University Hospitals Foundation as examples.

Turning the NHS estate into a free wi-fi zone was already an NHS England ambition, with outgoing director of patients and information Tim Kelsey championing the policy during his tenure.

He suggested earlier this month that NHS organisations should only get a share of the £1bn set aside for NHS technology projects in last month’s spending review if they committed to providing free wi-fi.

He said: “What I would predict is that a significant amount of [the £1bn of additional capital investment] will be devolved to local health economies in order that they can begin to supportdevelopment of the digital roadmaps, on which a core standard requirement/opportunity is [providing] free wi-fi [across their estates].”


Readers' comments (5)

  • How will free wifi reduce my adminastrative burden?

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  • Yep, free Wi-fi. That's exactly what the NHS needs to make everything better...

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  • Anthony Johnson

    As the NHS Action Party said, every paper states how 9 out of 10 hospitals are understaffed and worried about the impact of winter. Jeremy Hunt? "I want free WIFI!"

    The NHS Bursary cost 826 million. Instead of propagating the staffing shortage by cutting it Mr Hunt could have protected it. Or he could have given current staff a proper pay rise to halt the issues with retention and recruitment.

    He's destroying our NHS and he doesn't feel like he has to hide it behind proper excuses these days!

    Sign & share the petition:

    And come out with us on the 9th January if you want to fight for something important:

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  • They'll be studying their condition and questioning every step of the way!!

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  • And why shouldn't 'they study their OWN condition? what arrogance.
    But now Lady Fox can you please bring about what has been stated is already happening but is stop another set of 'them' charging for car parks..especially for elderly and disabled people who at the 'prestigious' University Hospital of Wales - they are charged to park and have their relatives/friends run the gammet of rain and wind to get to the hospital in wheelchairs

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