NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has awarded We Are Digital a contract to conduct a digital inclusion review.

The review is part of a wider programme to ensure equality of digital access for patients across the region following the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will assess the services available to digitally excluded groups in this area, including access to Wi-Fi, focusing on those living independently but in supported accommodation, such as hostels and sheltered living facilities. These groups include the elderly, lower income groups, the homeless, unemployed residents, the disabled, those with few educational qualifications, and those whose first language isn’t English.

As part of the CCG’s Digital First Programme, the review will also assess the free options available to the public to get online, identifying gaps in the region’s digital skills education services.

Mark Peedle, head of digital at NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG, said: “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a national shift to providing health services digitally.

“Understanding digital inclusion and its role in delivering health equality is a priority, as is increasing awareness of existing services that will increase digital inclusion going forward.

“This review will gather valuable insight to lead the development of future digital programmes and projects to that will ensure patient equality for digital access.”

We Are Digital is a social impact business, which has helped thousands of people access essential online services and manage their debts during the pandemic through its training work with housing associations, local authorities, banks and corporates.

Matt Adam, chief executive at We Are Digital, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the BLMK CCG [NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group] to better understand the communication needs of residents in this are.

“The review will provide information and data that can be shared with the wider health economy to help inform future digital inclusion work.”

A March 2021 edition of the Digital Health Unplugged podcast looked at the topic of digital inclusion.

Host Andrea Downey spoke to Helen Milner, CEO Good Things Foundation; Surriya Walters, digital social inclusion outreach manager Good Things Foundation; and Peter Nuckley, deputy director mHabitat about their work with NHS Digital on improving digital participation.

Digital Health Unplugged is published fortnightly on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Podcasts. Follow us to stay up-to-date with the latest news.

You can also download the podcast from digitalhealth.podbean.com or through the Podbean app.