Less than half of GP practices in England offer free Wi-Fi to their patients because of comissioners’ logistics delays, Management in Practice has learned.
NHS Digital said that, as of 19 March, only 43% of GP practices (approximately 3,261 practices) offer Wi-Fi services to their patients, despite the target of providing free Wi-Fi to all patients by 31 December 2017.
It said this is due to logistic delays encountered by several Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). NHS Digital could not provide the name of the CCGs that experienced these delays at this stage.
An NHS Digital spokesperson said: ‘CCGs are responsible for implementing GP Wi-Fi. NHS Digital provides funding and support, while practices are expected to facilitate the installation.
‘While the vast majority of practices will be providing free Wi-Fi by the end of March, some have encountered delays.
‘These delays are varied as they are CCG specific, but include local estate issues, contractor availability and limited or non-existent broadband in rural areas.’
All CCGs were made aware of the Wi-Fi programme in June 2017, but NHS Digital said that around 5% of CCGs were unable to meet their Wi-Fi deadlines as they were either part of another Wi-Fi delivery programme or have to deliver other complementary programs before they can start Wi-Fi delivery.
More practices to offer free Wi-Fi
NHS Digital believes that there are an additional 1,000 practices not shown on the system and that currently provide free Wi-Fi.
This is because Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are only classed as having achieved full implementation when 90% of their practices have installed free public Wi-Fi.
More than 75% of GP practices (approximately 5,687) will offer free Wi-Fi by the end of March, NHS Digital estimates.