It’s always lovely to be able to share good news, so after a lot of planning (and a bit of waiting too), we can now announce that we’re working with NHS England on a really exciting new programme – Widening Digital Participation and a digital health information network. (Those of you who commented on the photo of a blue celebration cake I posted on Twitter you now know what it was for.)
The premise of the programme is very simple. The overlap in demographics between people who are digitally excluded and those who suffer from health inequalities is huge. For example, half of all people who are offline have a disability, and among the over 65s (who account for half of NHS spending) 36% have never been online before. I’m pretty sure there is something we can do to both empower people to take charge of their own health, and to realise some cost savings.
Over the course of the programme we’ll be engaging with 100,000 people, and doing this working with the breadth and scale of our hyperlocal partners in the UK online centres network. These fantastic centres have such good reach into their local communities and they can support people (like Norah, who I won’t go on about again, but whose story you should definitely read) to improve their digital skills and go on to improve their health. We’ll be developing new online content to ensure we can reach even further, and doing this with existing as well as new partners, I’m delighted that includes working even more closely with the Society for Chief Librarians.
Working with NHS England we can show that we care about breadth (helping lots of people) and that we also care about depth (targeting those most at need). We’ll be working with 16 flagship partners who will work with us to test some deep-dive intervention, supporting some of the very hardest to reach groups (including homeless people, migrant workers, and sex workers). Working with people who face the biggest barriers to digital inclusion and good health I hope we can have a real impact and learn what we (and others) can do more of, or do better, in the future.
Bromley-by-Bow Living Health Centre & UK online centre
Southampton Libraries working with Macmillan Cancer Support
and, St Mungo’s Wellbeing Centres working with homeless people in Lambeth, Kensington and Chelsea, Hackney and Camden.
As Tim Kelsey says in his blog: “Not everybody has easy access to the internet so we are launching a programme that will support 100,000 of the most disadvantaged in our society to learn how to access health information online, in partnership with the Tinder Foundation. This is one of the most significant initiatives to target inequality ever launched in the NHS.”