Weston Area Health NHS Trust is trialling free wi-fi for patients as part of a wider initiative to enable mobile working for clinical staff.

The trust’s IT team has implemented a wireless network throughout Weston General Hospital.

The mobile working project was initiated to allow clinicians to spend more time by the patient’s bedside, and less time accessing information at computer terminals, but the trust realised patients would also benefit from having access to the network.

Hazel McPherson, the IT technical team leader, said the wi-fi is important to patient care and has received great feedback already.

“The implementation of a wi-fi network throughout the hospital has enabled us to look at new and innovative ways to improve patient care,” she said.

“The benefits this type of technology can bring to the hospital ranges from accessing important clinical information at the patient’s bedside to providing contact to the outside world for patients in our care.”

Patients can use their phones, laptops and tablets to detect the hospital’s wi-fi hotspot and request a code to connect to the internet.

Vivien Pratt, one of the patients using the wi-fi, said it helped her keeping in touch with friends and family while staying at an in-patient unit at the hospital.

She said that without the wi-fi she “felt isolated, especially when you can’t find a signal for a mobile phone. It meant I was totally cut off.”

Weston will run the trial until the end of the year, but hopes to make it a permanent fixture.

The trust also recently went out to tender to replace its electronic patient record system beyond the end of its national contract in 2015.