June 3rd 2020: Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BHNFT) is the first NHS Trust 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. The Trust has been a customer of WiFi SPARK for a number of years, with patient WiFi throughout the hospital. Recently, the WiFi was upgraded to the NHS Digitally mandated Free WiFi service. 

In 2020 the Trust appointed WiFi SPARK to deliver a patient entertainment solution to the whole Trust. The solution is called SPARK® Media and enables anyone in the Trust to access Freeview TV on the device of their choice (smartphone, laptop or tablet), 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. 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.

We also recognised the need to support patients that don’t have access to their own device(s), for this we purchased a small number of devices that can be loaned to patients free of charge.”

In fact, much of the driving force came from Bedford Hospital Charity & Friends. Deborah Inskip, Chairman of the charity 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”.

The funding for the patient entertainment solution came from Bedford Hospital Charity. Inskip said, ‘Offering patients a distraction from their time in hospital is a vital benefit for their mental health and feeling of well-being. 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.”

This is a great collaboration between hospital charity and Bedford Hospital. 

WiFi SPARK is the leading provider of guest and patient-access WiFi in the UK. The company is the owner and developer of the unique SPARK® Platform which delivers the most flexible, feature-rich and scalable solution for guest-access WiFi on the market today. WiFi SPARK specialises in WiFi in the healthcare sector and provides services to over 50% of the NHS Acute Trusts. WiFi SPARK has recently launched SPARK® Media, a revolution in patient entertainment, delivering TV, radio, educational content and more, directly to the patients’ device of their choice.


Media requests: Claire Bradley, Marketing Manager, marketing@wifispark.com

Commercial requests: Ian Spark, Head of Healthcare, info@wifispark.com

Social Media: Twitter: @wifispark  |  LinkedIn: www. linkedin.com/company/wifi-spark

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