Leading digital inclusion charity Citizens Online (1) has created a digital exclusion risk map of England, to help understand community needs in the Coronavirus pandemic.
The map can be found here. It shows GP surgeries with higher numbers of people aged 65 and older on their registers, and GP surgeries with the lowest levels of digital engagement.
Organisations can use this information to help identify areas where there are more people who don’t tend to use digital tools, or who are not online at all. This can help groups to provide focused support so that people can still have access to information and social connections. In the the longer term, the map can be used to help target schemes that help people to access devices and develop their digital skills.
Of 6,691 GP surgeries in England where there is Patient Online data, 3,854 (58%) had less than 30% of patients registered for online services as of February. 2,837 (42%) have more than 30% of patients registered (2). The UK government’s guidance on social distancing and self-isolation leads many of us to lean on digital solutions and services. NHS 111 request people use an online symptom checker rather than calling (3). A third of the population aged 65+ are not online (33.2%, 4). The “most financially vulnerable” are less likely to have a landline, mobile, or broadband (5), and more likely to lack digital skills (6).
Richard Denyer-Bewick, Citizens Online’s Managing Director, said: “People of all ages may experience problems using the internet. As well as being at increased risk from the virus, older people are much more likely to be digitally excluded. Access to online GP services, and to trustworthy, up-to-date health information, has become even more necessary during the pandemic.
We’ve created this map to help the health and social care sectors understand community needs in the Coronavirus pandemic. Together we can ensure people have access to information, devices, and digital skills support.”