Less than half of GP practices in England are providing free Wi-Fi to patients, new information has revealed.
A freedom of information request by Digital Health Age to NHS Digital confirmed that over 40% of GP practices now provide free patient Wi-Fi.
This is despite NHS Digital announcing last year that Wi-Fi services would be available to patients at all GP practices by the end of 2017.
The announcement was made in February last year with NHS Digital stating that NHS Wi-Fi would be installed in 991 general practices by 31 March 2017 and available in all general practices by the end of the year.
NHS Digital confirmed to Digital Health Age that over 40% of 97 CCGs who have provided the information now offer free patient Wi-Fi, equating to over 255 million patients.
More so, NHS Digital is waiting on updates from 110 CCGs on their progress. The organisation told Digital Health Age that “it is anticipated that the majority of surgeries will be providing free Wi-Fi by the end of the financial year, if not before.”
A statement from NHS Digital detailed some of the issues that general practices have faced when it comes to installing Wi-Fi.
NHS Digital said:“The scale of putting Wi-Fi into every GP surgery in England has meant some surgeries have encountered difficulties achieving the deadline due to challenges with buildings, contractor availability and other isolated issues. The timelines for delivery were calculated using input from suppliers and the experience of surgeries who have already installed Wi-Fi. Significant progress is being made to overcome issues and implement solutions to ensure that free public Wi-Fi is available to all in GP surgeries as soon as possible.”
It isn’t the first time that the NHS has stated that rolling out Wi-Fi across its services might be troublesome.
In November 2017, David Corbett, programme head of NHS Wi-FI, said:“While some CCGs have started their deliveries a little later than others, we’re confident that the majority of GP practices will be offering free Wi-Fi access to patients before the end of the year and the remainder in early 2018.”
However, this month, chief digital officer at NHS Digital, Juliet Bauer, provided an update about the progress the organisation is making towards digital implementation of many patient-facing services including Wi-Fi, stating that “free Wi-Fi is now available in GP practices across the country”.
Besides aiming to have Wi-Fi available in GP practices by the end of the financial year, the NHS expects the service to be available across all secondary care settings by 31 December 2018.