Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduces free TV for patients, visitors and staff

Bedford Hospital first in the UK to make TV, online newspapers and radio free for all

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BHNFT) is the first NHS organisation in the UK to introduce free TV for patients, visitors and staff.

Bedford Hospital is a 400-bed district general hospital located in the English town of Bedford, serving North and mid-Bedfordshire.

Earlier this year the trust appointed WiFi SPARK, which had already rolled out patient WiFi throughout the hospital, to deliver a patient entertainment solution throughout the organisation.

The solution, SPARK Media, enables anyone in the trust to access Freeview TV on the device of their choice free of charge.

In addition to watching TV, patients can also access digital magazines, daily newspapers, and listen to hospital radio free of charge.

Josh Chandler, associate director of IT at Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We wanted a patient entertainment solution that made the best use of the resources that were already available, namely the fact that most patients have their own devices.

"People feel more comfortable interacting with their own smartphones, tablets and laptops, so there was no need for us to invest in a costly solution that included installing hundreds of bedside entertainment units.

Offering patients a distraction from their time in hospital is a vital benefit for their mental health and wellbeing

“With SPARK Media, we have been able to offer TV, radio, hospital radio, newspapers and magazines to everyone in the hospital, including outpatients waiting for appointments, inpatients, and staff on breaks. It is already proving to be an excellent investment into the wellbeing of everyone at the hospital.”

As some patients don’t have access to their own device, the hospital also has a small number of devices that can be loaned free of charge.

The funding for the patient entertainment solution came from Bedford Hospital Charity.

Chairman, Deborah Inskip, said “As the hospital was no longer providing bedside radio or TV, we realised that some of the more elderly patients who are likely to spend more time in hospital yet unlikely to have their own devices, would be unable to access any music or light relief during their stay.

“Together with Hospital Radio Bedford, we encouraged a real ‘bringing back’ of radio and entertainment to the wards. The charity will provide more devices for loan to patients once we have had a chance to assess the need. It is great news that this facility is now available.”

She added: “Offering patients a distraction from their time in hospital is a vital benefit for their mental health and wellbeing.

“We recognised the importance of this and believe it will make a considerable difference for patients and staff. This project has been ongoing this year, but due to the COVID-19 crisis we accelerated the project as we wanted to help patients who were no longer able to have visitors.”

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