Junior doctors urgently need free access to wireless networks at work, NHS England’s clinical informatics director has said.

At a recent conference, Professor Jonathan Kay argued that wireless access would enable doctors to use apps and reference sources on their phone or tablet while treating patients.

He said that lack of access to wireless networks for trainee doctors, even when wireless networks are installed, is a good example of how NHS trusts must change their thinking to enable digital health.

Speaking at a joint CCIO Leaders Network and Clinical Health Informatics Network event last week, Professor Kay said: “Providing junior doctors with wireless access should be an obvious step for trusts."

Without wireless access, junior doctors cannot access clinical reference sources such as NICE guidance at the point of care, limiting their ability to treat patients using the best knowledge available, he told the ‘Transforming the power of information into ptractice’ event.

NHS England’s clinical informatics director said limiting access to clinical evidence and best practice knowledge resources should be considered “a patient safety issue."

He also indicated that mobile access is essential to accelerate the adoption of ward-based e-prescribing and medicines management and technologies for recording vital signs.

He said he had become aware of the issue after the NHS Hack Day community did an online survey revealing that many junior doctors struggle to get connectivity.

Professor Kay said many trusts already have the necessary wireless networks in place, but have policies – such as security policies and patient charges – which restrict availability to trainee doctors and other clinicians.

He would also like to see agreements in place that enable junior doctors to move between different hospitals and automatically carry their access to wireless networks with them.

NHS England has identified wireless networks as an essential information infrastructure requirement for a digital NHS underpinned by apps and mobility.

Guidance expected today from NHS England on the new £260m Technology Fund may say that trusts can bid for funds to support investments in wireless networks.