Isla Caton’s parents call for free wi-fi access at Queen’s Hospital for young patients
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 December 2017
The parents of a young girl being treated for cancer at Queen’s Hospital have criticised the fact they have to pay for wi-fi access.
Michael Hooke, 47, of Benets Road, Hornchurch, says his three-year-old daughter, Isla Caton, can only be calmed down by watching children’s TV when she is in pain but the cost of paying £6 a day is a financial burden.
Isls has visited the Romford hospital regularly over the past year as she is battling a rare type of cancer called neuroblastoma.
Transport worker Michael is calling on Queen’s to provide free internet for children with cancer or with lower immune systems who cannot visit the playroom.
He said: “We think it is particularly important for their welfare, it is the only thing they can do.
“The last thing you want to do when you are sick is play with toys.”
The hospital offers longer-stay patients £15.20 for a month’s access or £12 a week for unlimited access.
However, Michael says the family often rely on paying £2.50 for three hours or £6 a day.
“You never know when you are going to be in hospital for long. It all adds up,” he said.
While there are Freeview TVs attached to individual bed bays, many are broken.
“They haven’t worked since she went in over a year,” said mum Nicola Caton, 38.
“You can’t hotspot either. There is no signal so you have no choice but to pay.”
Nicola added many of the nurses end up having to spend time dealing with parents’ complaints.
Queen’s Hospital chief nurse Kathryn Halford said: “We understand it must be very difficult for Isla’s family to keep her occupied for long periods during her treatment.
“However, we’re one of many hospitals across the NHS currently unable to provide free wi-fi to patients. This is because it can be very expensive and we must prioritise patient care.”
She said the hospital is trying to fix the Freeview TVs.
David Corbett, NHS wi-fi programme director at NHS Digital, said a funding programme to enable all hospital trusts to offer free wi-fi would be fully in place by the end of next year.