£1bn Spending Review to fund NHS wi-fi, says Hunt

NHS
“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”

Money will be used to help deliver some of Martha Lane Fox and Tim Kelsey’s digital challenges – though details are sketchy of the timelines

[Whitehall, UK] Patients will be able to log in to free wi-fi when in hospital – though quite when, we’re still not sure.

Earlier this month, digital consultant Martha Lane Fox and outgoing NHS England exec Tim Kelsey called for much bolder use of tech by the health service – including complimentary wireless, to encourage better use of tech and for the convenience of patients and their families.

Now, as part of his response to the pair’s vision statement, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has confirmed that’s finally going to be possible – but not committed himself to precisely when.

We do at least know that the free wi-fi will be funded by the £1bn extra for tech the NHS received in the November Spending Review.

“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,” the Secretary told the press this week.

“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.”

Wi-fi ‘the last mile’ of paperless?

In a later confirmation of the move, the Department of Health added that the move is also hoped to reduce the administrative burden on doctors and nurses, freeing up more time to spend with patients, as well as encouraging more use of e-prescriptions, a hoped-for key to improved patient safety through technology.

Wi-fi, it also stated, is the final step in the move to the fully paperless NHS – so will presumably have to happen between now and 2020, the target for that full transformation.