Thousands of NHS patients in England will be taught to use the internet at their local GP surgery or hospital, under new plans aiming at improving access to healthcare.
Internet training centres will be set up in the next few months in an initial bid to teach 100,000 patients, according to the GPs’ magazine Pulse. The scheme is aimed predominately at the elderly after studies claimed that among over 65s – whose care makes up half of NHS spending – five million people have never been online.
The NHS has increased the number of services and information that are available online in recent years and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he wants the health service to be “paperless” by 2018.
However, there have been concerns that a correlation exists between some of the most vulnerable people in the population – the elderly, those with disabilities, the homeless and traveller communities – and those who are least likely to use the internet.
The initial scheme will cost £750,000 and will be focused on poorer parts of England, but could be rolled out more widely. The service will be contracted to an outside organisation, to be announced in September.