MORE than 22,000 people have made use of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s new free Wifi service, since its launch earlier in the year.

The CAV free Wifi service has been piloted at health board sites over the last six months and has proved hugely popular with patients and visitors who have been using it to access films, television programmes, music, emails and more, directly from their beds and waiting rooms.

More than 2,700 people are using the service on a daily basis, downloading thousands of gigabytes of data each day.

University Hospital Llandough is among those to have benefitted from the service.

Michelle Waldron, from Canton, said it was making her stay at the University Hospital of Wales much easier.

The 46-year-old said: “I was really shocked when I found out about the service. I thought ‘this is great’, I was really excited.

“I’m really pleased to be able to use my laptop; it’s a bit of a home comfort.”

Michelle has been using sites like Facebook and Skype to keep in touch.

She said: “It has been really good to talk with friends and family on there. I can let them know if I’m feeling up for visitors which is good.

“It is helping me to communicate and get over things and feel better.

“I’ve been getting lots of messages of support and it helps to keep your spirits up.”

The service, which has been rolled out over the last few months, can be accessed by any wifi compatible device and is freely available to anyone at UHW or University Hospital Llandough, with plans to expand the coverage further at other health board sites.

The free wifi service has been extended to provide patients and visitors with a source of information, entertainment and communication. It comes as private hospital entertainment service Hospedia has withdrawn from University Hospital of Wales after informing the UHB that the service was no longer viable.

The new service, which also streams hospital radio stations Radio Glamorgan and Rookwood Sound, is being provided by the UHB thanks to support from the health board’s independent charity.

There is also CWTCH (Children of Wales Talking in the Children’s Hospital) – a free wifi service designed for those being cared for in the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales.

As a tertiary centre for many types of care, UHW also has patients from across Wales.

Maria Battle, the health board Chair, said: “We are really pleased with the feedback from patients who have helped pilot the new free wifi service. They have told us what a difference it has made to them, not only to help make their stay in hospital that little bit easier, but also to keep in touch with their loved ones.

“I know there were a few patients who were able to video chat with their families over Christmas which must have made a world of difference.

“As a specialist centre, we care for people from all across Wales, so being able to connect them with their friends and family is a great thing to be able to do.”

CAV Free Wifi Top five uses

1. Surfing the web

2. Streaming video

3. Facebook

4. iTunes

5. YouTube