Free Wi-Fi internet access at Pennine Acute Hospitals gets the thumbs up!

Free Wi-Fi internet access at Pennine Acute Hospitals gets the thumbs up!
08 August 2016

PATIENTS and visitors at hospitals run by The Pennine Acute Trust will soon be able to keep in touch with family and friends over the internet following the launch of a free Wi-Fi internet service.

A new system has been designed and installed by the Trust’s IT communications team and supplier Wi-Fi Spark Ltd.  After being tested in the emergency department at North Manchester General Hospital, the service is now ready to be rolled out Trust wide from the beginning of August.

Previously patients had to rely on their own mobile signal and pay for their own data usage. Now an average of 200 devices per day are being logged on to the free Wi-Fi service at North Manchester General Hospital.

The paediatric emergency department at North Manchester General Hospital was one of the first departments within the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust to trial the free Wi-Fi access so that children could occupy themselves with internet based activity.

Dianne Cook, lead advanced paediatric nurse practitioner, (pictured) said: “We were very keen to develop the free Wi-Fi access following feedback from children and young people who have visited our A&E department.  We have listened to their views following surveys undertaken in the department and in a recent Children’s Commissioner ‘takeover’ day, which involved local schoolchildren working in our department and getting involved in decision-making. The children wanted to have free Wi-Fi access when they attend hospital, and this view has been echoed by adults who often ask staff if they can have access.”

Ray Ashton, IT communications manager, said: “Our Trust directors and leading clinicians have been very supportive in getting this Wi-Fi service implemented throughout the Trust’s hospitals.  This has meant a re-design of our current Wi-Fi network and the operational support of a service partner, WI-FI Spark Ltd.  The Wi-Fi system is easy to access and totally free for users at North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital, Rochdale Infirmary and Fairfield General Hospital in Bury.”

Connecting to the free Wi-Fi wireless network is a very simple process and will be clearly described on posters throughout the Trust.  There is also a helpdesk number to ring if patients or visitors encounter any problems.

Eight-year-old Charlie Grimshaw from Middleton took advantage of the new service when he was treated in A&E at North Manchester for an injury to his ankle.  His mum, Nicola, said: “I think the free Wi-Fi in A&E is a good idea as it helps parents be able to get in touch with any other relatives they may need to contact whilst in hospital. Also it’s great for kids in A&E as it helps pass the time and take their mind off their illness or injury.  Whilst we were waiting to be seen and go for x-rays, Charlie played on the iPad.” Charlie said: “I enjoyed playing games on the iPad while I was waiting.  It stopped me from getting bored and made me forget about my sprained ankle.”

Dr Jim Butler, consultant in emergency medicine at North Manchester General Hospital, said: “This is a significant step into the digital age for the Trust and entirely in line with NHS policy on Wi-Fi access as announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2015.”

Pictured: Charlie Grimshaw from Middleton and Dianne Cook, lead advanced paediatric practitioner in North Manchester General Hospital’s emergency paediatric department, try out the Wi-Fi access.