How NHS WiFi is helping to create efficiencies for staff with better outcomes for patients

By Julie Haigh, community midwife. 6 November 2018

Community midwife Juie Haigh speaks to a patient while working at a computer

As a community midwife in a remote area of England, working in an area where you would pray for one bar of signal strength to show on your phone, you can imagine my joy to discover that all of the GP sites in Cumbria now have free NHS WiFi connectivity. 

Not having to search for that little hot spot, at just the right point between two mountains, means that not only can I see my clients and enter their data in real-time on our remote base maternity system, but I can also show them on their phones how to access reputable and approved websites or apps, right there in the GP practice.  I wish I could do that in all the places I meet my clients.  Having WiFi connectivity as a midwife is essential and supports my ability to provide appropriate and relevant care.

One instance that comes to mind involved a client attending one of my clinics at a GP practice.  During the appointment she reported she had not been feeling great but couldn’t put her finger on the reason why.  I undertook a full antenatal examination and during our discussion she disclosed that her throat was a bit sore and the little ones had been ill and off school. She dismissed her symptoms as ‘probably being just a bit rundown’ but I took a throat swab to test for a possible streptococcal infection and a full blood count to rule out anaemia.  We also discussed signs of concern and what to do if she began to feel any worse. I used NHS WiFi to show her how to access the NHS website on her phone for further information. 

After the appointment, I accessed my base maternity system remotely using NHS WiFi and completed a contact record where I noted the swab and bloods orders and history and advice offered.  The swab and blood were then sent to the laboratory and I continued with my clinic.

The next morning at 3am, the client called the maternity unit to say she felt so much worse and mentioned the appointment she had earlier that day.  The midwife on duty was able to read my notes on the maternity system, the actions that were taken during the appointment and the fact that I was concerned with the possibility of a group A streptococcal infection.  As a result of having my clinical report, the midwife could tailor her advice and actions appropriately.   The client was admitted and treated, quickly and appropriately based on the information available which resulted in a good outcome that was properly managed.

I find it difficult to imagine not having WiFi access at the GP practices where I provide a service.  In this instance, NHS WiFi enabled me to not only show my client where she could access valid and relevant information but allowed me to share information in real time with my colleagues, who were then able to make informed clinical decisions just that bit sooner.  I value the accessibility NHS WiFi provides midwives with working within GP practices and think of it as another tool that helps us work more quickly and effectively.