Early adopters due to have free service for patients in place by end of March
The first tranche of English GP practices are beginning to install free Wi-Fi for patients.
NHS Digital has said that 991 practices from 20 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that have signed up as early adopters should have it in place by 31 March.
Patients will be able to access the internet free of charge in waiting rooms through an NHS.UK landing page that will also include national healthcare information and content produced by the GP and local CCG.
NHS Digital said the service is being created in response to patient feedback, and highlighted the potential for people to use it to find healthcare information and download health apps.
It added that Wi-Fi should be available to all GPs by the end of this year and to the rest of the NHS, including secondary care locations, by spring 2019.
CCGs can now procure Wi-Fi services through relevant frameworks including that offered by Crown Commercial Services.
Beverley Bryant, director of digital transformation at NHS Digital, said: "Procurement for NHS Wi-Fi is now open and the CCGs that are participating in the early adopter stage are keen to attract industry suppliers who can get on board and be part of delivering this digital milestone for health and care.
“NHS Wi-Fi is vital to securing the long term future of NHS services by providing access to the latest health technology which will support doctors and nurse in their work and empower patients to make informed choices in their treatment and care."
NHS England committed to making Wi-Fi available throughout its estate in 2015, when Tim Kelsey, then NHS national director for patients and information, announced it as one of the follow-up plans to the Personalised Health and Care Framework from the previous year.
The plan also reflects an element of the General Practice Forward View from 2016.