Department of Health hopes to improve connectivity and offer better services with free NHS Wi-Fi
All NHS buildings in England will offer free Wi-Fi as part of an ongoing strategy by the government to use technology to improve services and reduce costs.
At present, only some hospitals offer free Wi-Fi, while others charge for access and some do not have wireless connectivity at all. This means many patients and visitors must hope they have an adequate mobile signal to contact friends and family.
The Department of Health (DoH) believes that not only will patient experience be improved, but the NHS will be able to become more efficient through e-prescribing, which it says can reduce medication errors by half, and monitors that can alert doctors and nurses to potential problems.
Free NHS Wi-Fi
No deadline has been given for the rollout, but the NHS has previously stated it wants to be paperless by 2020. The cost of deployment will be covered by a £1 billion technology fund.
Last month, NHS England started advertising for a new chief information and technology officer (CITO) to lead the organisation’s IT projects following the departure of Tim Kelsey, the national director for patients and information.
Kelsey, who has been key in driving NHS England technology initiatives related to data sharing and making patient records accessible online by 2020, announced in September he plans to leave the NHS at the end of this year to move to Telstra Health.
However the NHS has a chequered past when it comes to major IT projects. In 2011, the government axed the costly £12.7 billion NHS Programme for IT (NpfIT), thought to be the world’s biggest civil IT programme.
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