NHS Digital extends programme to widen participation in digital health

20 Mar 2017

NHS Digital aims to help thousands of people to improve their digital health skills, with the launch of the next phase of a three-year Widening Digital Participation (WDP) programme.

The project will develop 20 local digital inclusion pathfinder projects across all four NHS regions, over the next three years. The pathfinder projects will be delivered by NHS Digital, in conjunction with the Good Things Foundation. 

The first two pathfinder networks are a project with Islington CCG working with young people with mental health problems and learning disabilities and a social prescribing project with Sheffield CCG, supporting older people with one or more long-term conditions.

NHS Widening Digital Participation

One in 10 people in England lack the confidence and skills to benefit from digital health technologies. The pathfinders will develop models for effective local partnerships to improve digital health skills and access to digital services and information. This will support patients in the move towards a more digitised NHS - particularly the most excluded in society – and gather evidence and lessons that will be shared throughout the NHS to improve future services.

The Widening Digital Participation (WDP) programme will include working with organisations such as Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities and community groups in areas of high need. 
WDP Programme Director at NHS Digital, Amanda Neylon, said: “We know that there is a strong correlation between digital exclusion and health inequalities. Through this project we hope to enable and support vulnerable people to take control of their own health care by providing them with the skills and confidence to go online and access digital health information and services.  Good Things Foundation will bring a wealth of experience of reaching digitally and socially excluded groups and we are looking forward to working with them over the next three years”. 

Helen Milner, chief executive officer of the Good Things Foundation, said:  “We are delighted to be working again on NHS Digital’s Widening Digital Participation programme. We're passionate about creating a digitally confident population and through our 3,000 community hubs we know Good things Foundation can play a crucial role in scaling digital health inclusion interventions and forming an important backbone for people-powered health”. 

“Digital healthcare is an area where the ‘furthest first’ are set to gain the most. By pursuing this project we can relieve pressure on NHS services, reduce costs, and contribute towards health as a social movement, putting people in control of their healthcare and improving their well-being.”