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NHS Digital launches new projects to stamp out digital health inequalities

Five new projects have today been launched by NHS Digital to improve the digital health skills and access of thousands of patients to new technologies aimed at supporting their health and care.

The new digital inclusion pathfinder projects fall under NHS Digital’s three-year Widening Digital Participation (WDP) programme which is being delivered alongside the Good Things Foundation charity.

The first two of these projects were announced in March this year, in Sheffield and Islington, while the five new projects will start work as soon as possible

One of the projects is a programme in Stoke-on-Trent CCG working with people with long-term cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

Other schemes include Nailsea Town Council, who will establish a high street digital hub to enable sharing of digital health skills between younger and older people, as well as a charity in Bradford called Make Your Mind Up, who works with sufferers of dementia, diabetes and hearing impairments.

Wakefield CCG and West Yorkshire STP will also investigate the potential of wearable technology for patients with vision and hearing impairments to support their care, while the final programme, the Seaview project in Hastings, focuses on digital health inclusion for the homeless or insecurely housed.

“We are pleased to announce details of the next five digital inclusion pathfinder projects and the potential to reach and support people who will greatly benefit from being able to access digital health services and information,” WDP programme director at NHS Digital, Nicola Gill, said. 

“We will share all of the insights and learnings from the pilot projects and hope to see an increased uptake in digital technologies by those that need it the most.”

And Helen Milner, chief executive of the Good Things Foundation, added that it was vital that everyone had the skills they needed to be able to benefit from digital health information and services.

“We know that those being left behind are already the most socially excluded,” she argued. “Through the WDP programme, we’re already learning a huge amount about the models and approaches that work for supporting the hardest to reach to improve their digital health skills, and we’re keen to continue learning and developing approaches alongside these new pathfinders.”

Back in March, NHE’s Josh Mines investigated the issue of digital inequality within the NHS, and spoke to Adam Micklethwaite along with other sector experts on the matter.

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This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >