Free WiFi for patients and visitors

Posted on Wed, 30/09/2015

QE Gateshead has become the first hospital in the region to offer free WiFi internet access for patients and visitors while they are on the wards or public areas of the building.

People will be able to connect their smartphones and tablets wirelessly and free of charge while they are cared for in hospital or visit their loved ones.

The move is part of the hospital’s vision to provide an excellent patient experience and shape services around the needs of the local community.

Internet access is now an important part of modern life helping patients find directions, access healthcare information, get details about public transport and stay connected while they wait for appointments.

It will also help patients who need to stay in hospital keep in touch with family, friends and loved ones during what can often be a stressful and anxious time.

Allowing patients to easily surf the internet, communicate through social media or send and receive emails can help reduce the isolation that can build up during long or frequent hospital stays, while the need to help patients ‘stay connected with life outside hospital’ is well recognised by clinicians.

The free WiFi will also be an important benefit to children who can access educational materials to keep up to date with school work while they are in hospital or just to have some entertainment during waiting times. It will also help busy people visiting day clinics or outpatient appointments to keep in contact with work while they wait.

Ian Renwick, Chief Executive of QE Gateshead said: “At QE Gateshead we’re passionate about putting the patient at the centre of everything we do and I think this is an important step in providing free access to a key service. The web is now a significant part of all our lives and by providing it to people visiting the hospital it helps remove some of the stress.

“We believe that this will improve the patient experience and enable some vital communications tools for people visiting or staying at the Queen Elizabeth. We’ve been able to achieve this at a very low cost by using our existing IT supplier to provide additional capacity.”

Hilary Lloyd, director of nursing at QE Gateshead said: “Anything we can do to improve the patient experience is a good thing and can only have a beneficial impact on people’s recovery. Technology has moved on so quickly that we all take communications over the internet for granted but that can become difficult and frustrating when coming into the NHS for treatment. Staying in hospital can be an anxious, stressful and at times tiresome experience for patients so if we can help provide a way of keeping in touch with their friends, loved ones or support groups while they recover then that’s a real boost for everyone.”

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