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Bid to Increase Internet Enabled Services in Health and Care

June 29, 2016

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Recommendations to ensure that everyone using the NHS can access free Wi-Fi were made today by Martha Lane Fox. This follows Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commissioning the former UK Digital Champion to examine how there can be increased digital inclusion throughout the NHS.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox made these 4 main recommendations to the National Information Board:

- Ensuring those with the greatest health and social care needs, often the least likely to be online, are incorporated first in any new digital tools being used in the NHS;

- Free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings;

- Building the fundamental digital skills of the NHS workforce to make sure that everybody has the digital skills required to support the health needs of people;

- No less than 10% of registered patients in every GP practice should be using a digital service such as repeat prescriptions, online appointment booking and access to records by 2017.

Free Wi-Fi will permit patients staying in hospital to:

- Self-monitor their conditions by using apps;

- Maintain contact with social networks that can support recovery and help them to stay in touch with family and friends.

For doctors, nurses and care staff it will:

- Reduce the administrative burden on them, freeing up more of their time to be spent with patients, and permitting safer working practices such as e-prescribing, which reduces medication errors by 50%.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox said:

“One of the founding principles of the NHS was to ensure that everyone - irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation - should have equal opportunity to benefit from the best and most up to date medical and allied services available.

“These principles are also the foundation of my recommendations and embedded within my new national organisation Doteveryone.

“In the network age, universality, equity and quality must be at the very centre of how we build, adopt and scale new technologies in health. No-one must be left behind.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented:

“Creating an NHS which is digitally fit for purpose in the 21st century is a key priority for this government. New investment of £1 billion in health technology announced in the autumn statement will help us to achieve this - making sure that patients and staff can access the services they need, helping to free up time and reduce costs.”

Tim Kelsey, National Information Board Chair and NHS England National Director of Patients and Information, added:

“Digital health tools can dramatically improve people’s lives and wellbeing. These bold challenges to the system to ensure that every person in the UK benefits are very welcome, and will galvanise work already underway to put power in the hands of patients, enabling them to take control of their care and improve their health.”

To ensure that all who work in the NHS make the best use of technology and data, Martha Lane Fox will suggest that digital skills are cultivated within the NHS through training, support and mentorship programmes rolled out locally, regionally and nationally.

The recommendations will be considered by the National Information Board.

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