A scheme has started to recruit ‘digital health champions’ in Reading and neighbouring areas to help people access NHS services and advice via their phones or laptops.
The scheme follows calls made two years ago by Healthwatch Reading on the need for champions to tackle digital exclusion. We spoke out after running a 'Log On To Health' project that trained local women of various ethnicities on how to sign up and book appointments and order repeat medication online.
Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group – which plans and funds local NHS services – will run the new scheme in partnership with NHSX (the digital technology unit for the NHS) and Digital Unite, a social enterprise.
How to become a digital health champion
- You don’t have to be an IT whizz – you’ll be given full training
- You need a little spare time (usually around two hours a week)
- You should be enthusiastic about supporting others to use the internet to manage their health online
- You will work with learners on a one-to-one basis or in a small group, usually in a public venue like a doctor’s surgery, hospital waiting area, WiFi enabled café or community centre
- You will also help people remotely, over the telephone or via Zoom.
Kamal Bahia who is leading the work at the CCG, said: “One in five people nationally don’t have essential digital skills for everyday life, and the most frequent users of health and social care are the least likely to be online. It’s really important people are given support to start accessing their healthcare digitally."
She added that people who volunteer as champions will develop their own skills and knowledge, get certificates they can use on the CV, “as well as getting huge satisfaction from knowing they’ve made such a difference to someone else”.