"wi-fi access for patients and visitors"

About: Addenbrooke's Hospital

(as a relative),

It was impossible to make a 'virtual visit' to a relative in a ward at Addenbrooke's hospital due to the absence of wi-fi provision.

They were in hospital for 10 days or so and I was unable to visit in person. mobile phone reception was problematic so the only guaranteed means of communication whilst they were bedridden was by text message.

Installing wifi would be inexpensive, could be done swiftly and unobtrusively and it would increase patient well-being through contact with the world outside by virtual visits (eg. by skype) email, social media etc.

Patients could also access online medical information about their condition, patient opinion sites like this one etc. happier patients would surely mean faster patient turnover ...

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Responses

Response from Lee Bennett, Head of Patient Liaison, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for your comments. I shall share your comments with our IT Department and get back with a response as soon as I am able to.

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Response from Lee Bennett, Head of Patient Liaison, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Hello again. I have received a response from our senior IT team and clearly this is not a straightforward issue. I hope this response is helpful to you:

· Providing wifi to one area would not prove too costly but to provision the entire site/wards would incur significant cost.

· If we provide guest wireless we have to make sure it is totally segregated from the Medical network so as not to inadvertently allow malicious access to patient data or propagation of viruses/trojans. This would mean provisioning of not just wifi access points but also back end infrastructure and a separate internet connection external to the hospital.

· If a service is provisioned, it then has to be supportable. Adding a potential user base of 1000 plus people means support implications which would have to be costed and necessary staff employed.

· Whilst having wifi would be beneficial to some patients, it may be that this causes unnecessary distress to others. Especially for patients who may want to be resting and not able to do so as people are on Skype/streaming music and films etc at any time of the day and night.

· Once we provision a service like this we also have a duty to protect the types of content that are allowed to be viewed/used so as not to cause distress or mental anguish or allow breach of copyright or other illegal activities. This again incurs a setup and ongoing maintenance/support cost.

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Update posted by mrwifi (a relative)

Thank you for your response but I am afraid I do not find it satisfactory in several respects.

Taking the last two points first in reverse order: content control can be easily set up by a wifi provider to restrict access to a range of sites. Secondly, your reference to patients who may be wishing to rest and not be disturbed by other patients is a complete red herring. Patients could be asked to wear headphones, have restricted hours of permitted usage etc.

The situation with regard to internet usage is no different in that respect from the use of television and mobile phones in wards (these are permitted in most wards, I understand!) With regard to security: any such problems could be bypassed by using an independent, perhaps advertising supported wifi service completely unconnected to the hospital internet system or for example a 3G wifi system like WiBE.

I think that your response shows a lack of awareness of these issues and options together with a bit of a no-can-do and non progressive attitude - this issue is only going to become more urgent as patient and visitor demand for wifi increases.

I would be most grateful if you would therefore forward my response to your response to a more senior manager at Addenbrookes and ask that they could provide a more considered response to my opinion and the points raised in this response.