Over five million patients will soon be able to access Wi-Fi in early adopter GP practices as the NHS takes the first step towards rolling the service out across the entire organisation.
NHS Wi-Fi will be installed in 991 general practices across England by 31 March this year. The free to use service will allow patients to link in with local health clinics and services in their GP’s waiting room.
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) can acquire Wi-Fi services on behalf of GP practices in their areas through established frameworks including the Crown Commercial Services Framework.
CCGs can source Wi-Fi services from any commercial supplier that meets the national Wi-Fi standards developed by the programme.
Internet access will be granted through an NHS.UK landing page which will provide national healthcare information as well as locally generated content from the general practice or CCG. Patients will be able to use the service to access and download health apps, browse the internet and look up health and care information.
The service comes a response to patient feedback asking for free Wi-Fi services to be introduced in NHS locations. NHS Wi-Fi aims to offer a reliable and secure platform that enables GPs to offer and utilise the latest digital health and care services.
Wi-Fi is being rolled out in both primary and secondary care locations. NHS Wi-Fi will be available in all general practices by the end of 2017 and to the rest of the NHS by spring 2019.
Director of Digital Experience at NHS England, Juliet Bauer, said: “Installing fast and free-to-use Wi-Fi in NHS buildings is an important first step in the delivery of a digital healthcare experience. It will help patients to manage their health by opening up access to digital platforms such as online pharmacy services and approved patient apps and enable doctors and nurses to maximise the benefits of new technologies. 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.”
Beverley Bryant, director of Digital Transformation at NHS Digital, said: “Procurement for NHS Wi-Fi is now open and the CCGs that are participating in the early adopter stage are keen to attract industry suppliers who can get on board and be part of delivering this digital milestone for health and care. NHS Wi-Fi is vital to securing the long term future of NHS services by providing access to the latest health technology which will support doctors and nurse in their work and empower patients to make informed choices in their treatment and care.”