Exciting news – our new partnership with the NHS Commissioning Board

It’s always nice to be able to share good news, and today I have something very exciting to share with you. The NHS Commissioning Board has announced today that  – to support their aims for an inclusive NHS for all – they’ll be funding us at Online Centres Foundation (and more importantly, the UK online centres network) to support people to improve their skills, and in turn to improve their health.

There are some pretty weighty statistics that back up the NHS’s decision. Half of all people who are offline have a disability, and among the over 65s – who account for half of all NHS spending – 36% have never been online before. Not only does this mean that they can’t take advantage of things like saving money, connecting with friends and family and learning more, but they’re also missing out on being able to find information about their health, to research easily the services that are available in their local area and to make informed, healthy choices.

There are also huge inequalities in health between the poorest communities and the wealthiest ones – shockingly, in England people living in the poorest communities will die 7 years younger than those in the wealthiest communities. We know that people living in deprived communities are the most likely to be offline, and 80% of learners supported by the UK online centres network are socially excluded. So it’s a really good fit – this new partnership announced today aims to make sure digital inequalities don’t exacerbate health inequalities even further.

If you follow my blog, or my Slideshare, you’ll know that one of my favourite case studies from last year is of the lovely Norah who – since getting online – has lost a lot of weight and has seen significant improvements to her health. Her arthritis has improved so much that she’s now been able to take up the ukelele! And her diabetes has improved significantly, so she’s healthier, happier and has a new lease of life.

This is just one story of someone who has improved their health significantly because of the internet, and our partnership with the NHS will ensure it will be felt by many more across the nation, and in some of the UK’s most deprived communities. We’ll be working on creating new learning content for www.learnmyway.com that will support people with low skills to access health information online, and we’ll also be able to provide funding to centres within our network, so they can give people the hands-on support they need, at local places in the community, as well as directly working with health professionals to create more UK online centres in medical centres, clinics, GP surgeries or hospitals.

This partnership will ensure that those who are digitally excluded won’t be excluded in other ways too – like the chance to take control of their own health and wellbeing, and make informed choices that are right for them. I’m really excited about it – it’s good for the UK online centres network and for the nation as a whole.

3 thoughts on “Exciting news – our new partnership with the NHS Commissioning Board

  1. We’re working to try to engage Public Health Professionals with Social Media. The first myth we have to dispel is "its a young persons thing." I’m approaching my 55th birthday and about to take early retirement from Local Government after 34 years so that quickly answers that question. I also loved the story from AgeUK last week that the countries oldest Facebook user is 105. Your story of Norah strikes me as one that Public Health Professionals would be very interested in as it would start to make them think about digital inclusion as a Public Health measure. With the transfer of responsibility to Local Authorities in a month the NHS and Public Health will be separated to an extent. The wider determinants of health are those that have a greater immediate impact on our ageing population so it would make sense for Directors of Public Health to be involved with this. On a personal note I’d love to be involved with pushing this forward as it fits perfectly into the work I want to do on Social Media in the future. As someone who once said "what’s the use of sending something in less than 140 characters." I can definitely empathise with those people who think that way.If Jigsaw can help please contact me jigsawpsph@gmail.com or @jigsawpsphKind RegardsPete

  2. Norah is an inspiration to all of us here at Doncaster West Development Trust. Although her story started when she joined our Silver Surfer sessions I am sure she will also attribute her fantastic weight loss journey as being triggered during the CCB project and our partnership with the NHS Lifecheck Team. The Lifecheck Coordinator attended sessions to demonstrate NHS Choices and encourage learners to visit their interactive web site where individuals can plan personal changes to make a positive difference to their health. http://www.nhs.uk/lifecheck. This site has more recently been used as part of the sessions we offered during the ‘start something online’ campaign. The future sounds very exciting and we can’t wait to hear more.

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