£3 million to improve access to technology

Welsh Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has announced that £3 million will be made available to improve access to technology for health staff and patients.

Speaking at the Digital Health and Care Conference in Cardiff, Gething said that the funding would form part of a new three year Digital Inclusion and Health programme which will help staff and patients engage with technology and support people to manage their medical information online.

Gething said: “Having the skills and motivation to access digital health services can help people better manage their conditions, whilst helping to reduce the burden on under pressure NHS services. The National Survey for Wales 2017-18 showed that 60 per cent of people in Wales aged 75 and over and 26 per cent of disabled people are digitally excluded. These people are also more likely to access health and social care services than the rest of the population. It is vital we improve their ability to access digital services.”

The Health Secretary’s announcement coincides with the publication of a new report, Digital Inclusion in Health and Care in Wales, which finds that one in four people with limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity are not currently using the internet, compared with only 10 per cent of those without such a condition.

Commissioned by the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Carnegie UK Trust, the report identifies many examples of digital inclusion good practice in health and care settings in Wales, but also highlights the majority of Health Boards in Wales are still making no reference to digital inclusion in their digital strategies or Integrated Medium Term Plans.

Bob Gann, author of the report, said: “The messages from the report are clear. We need to bring digital inclusion higher up the agenda, and embed it in the mainstream of health and care in Wales. We need to be able to measure the impact of digital inclusion through outcomes which are relevant to the NHS and social care – including increased self-care and appropriate use of services.

“And as we rethink some our approaches to digital inclusion for health and care, we will be most successful if we work with patients and service users to co-produce solutions which matter to them, and are accessible and well-designed.”

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