Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Free wi-fi across the NHS

Wi-fi is essential for medical education and helps clinicians provide safe and effective patient care

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 08 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4642
  1. Scott W Oliver, clinical teaching fellow1,
  2. Kathleen Collins, clinical teaching fellow1
  1. 1NHS Lanarkshire, Postgraduate Office, Wishaw General Hospital, Wishaw ML2 0DP, UK
  1. drscottoliver{at}

We disagree with several of Ingram’s assertions.1 As clinical teaching fellows working primarily in undergraduate medical education, we think that access to wi-fi is a necessity, not a luxury. It is also in keeping with recently published General Medical Council guidance.2 Our students use personal handheld devices to access clinical guidelines, to utilise teaching materials, and for academic administration. With many major scientific publications appearing exclusively online, and textbooks often becoming outdated before they leave the printing press, it’s unhelpful to deny NHS staff and students access to up-to-date resources through wi-fi.

As NHS finances become increasingly stretched the utility of rapid, effective, time sensitive communication becomes ever more apparent. Wi-fi facilitates mobile email access, an essential part of the professional lives of most students, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. Reliable wi-fi also enables the use of voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) telephone communication, which offers comparable quality to traditional telephone services at hugely reduced costs.3

Presumably filtering and authentication software would be needed to implement wi-fi in NHS premises. Filtering and other security software are readily available and are already being used by most NHS organisations for wired internet access.4 The Eduroam network provides authentication for academic internet access across thousands of institutions around the world,5 and it could surely be adapted for use within NHS institutions.

Wi-fi access is necessary to drive increased efficiency and promote patient safety in healthcare institutions, and we welcome any opportunity to increase its availability to NHS staff, healthcare students, and our patients.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4642


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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