Tameside's voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations can now bid for funds to help resident's access online services and tackle digital exclusion in communities across through borough. These funds are being made available through the Digital First Primary Care programme.
The Digital First Primary Care programme aims to make it easier for Tameside communities to gain access to equipment designed to improve online confidence and motivation around accessing health and care services and the Internet in a holistic way to support health and wellbeing.
Tameside Integrated Care Partnership has secured £80,000 funding for the digital access project which builds on work already underway with local voluntary, charity and social enterprise partners across Tameside by giving them access to funding which support the work they do.
Since the pandemic there has been an even greater drive towards the digitisation of health and care however, this can reduce choice for patients who, for a variety of reasons, don't have digital access and therefore encounter a barrier to accessing health services.
The NHS are aiming to support digital inclusion by taking a comprehensive approach to targeting groups who are digitally excluded this may be because they don't have the right equipment, find it difficult to get online or see cost as a barrier to using the internet.
Figures show the following groups do regularly use the internet:
- 95% of people aged 16-74
- 47% in people over the age of 75
- 78% of disabled people
Digitally excluded groups don't and are often residents who experience the greatest health inequalities or are vulnerable, they include:
- older people
- those in lower income groups
- people not in work
- people living in social housing
- disabled people
- people with fewer educational qualifications
- homeless people, or
- people who don't use English as a first language.
Cllr Eleanor Wills, Tameside Council Executive Member for Population Health & Wellbeing, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for local organisations to join in the fight against digital exclusion and help improve access to online health care for vulnerable groups.
"When used appropriately, digital access can support the delivery of personalised care, putting the patient at the centre of their care and support plans. To tackle this challenge effectively it is important we link together over the next few years with an efficiently resourced digital healthcare programme and a clear strategy to improve access and the digital approach to health and care for patients."
Ashwin Ramachandra, Strategic Clinical Lead for Integrated Care at Tameside Integrated Care Partnership, said: "Digital exclusion impacts people across our communities and I'm delighted that through this funding we'll improve access to local health care. We're committed to reducing health inequalities across our communities and I'm confident that by working with our local partners we'll be able to effectively reach these target groups in Tameside."