Digital Health & Inclusion

Exploring the inclusivity of digital healthcare

What are we doing?

The NHS is currently following a digital first strategy. From GP appointments to physiotherapy, many services are being moved online. Accessing services online is often called ‘digital health’.

To find out how well this digital first strategy is working, we are currently engaging with a range of organisations and groups from across communities in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. We want to better understand how local patients, residents, and carers experience digital health, and what they think about digital healthcare services like eConsult and System Online. If we know what is and isn’t working, we can evaluate how inclusive new digital health initiatives are in practice.

Since January 2021, we’ve spoken to groups like the Macular Society, Groundwork and Age UK. Through a series of focus groups and interviews, local service users have told us how well digital health initiative are working for them.

Having conversations about digital health has also helped us explore wider health issues that local patients, residents, and carers are facing. People have spoken to us about GP primary care provision, online accessibility, translation services, and changes to hospital care.


What have people told us so far?

I would like support with translating. Our GP has no Russian translator. It is difficult to use Google translate. Special courses to help would be good.

I use Google, but I would like support from a professional.

What do we want to achieve?

Amplifying local patients’ voices, and making sure health and social care services work best for the people who use them, is at the heart of our role at Healthwatch Central West London.

We want to better understand the thoughts and experiences of patients, residents, and carers when it comes to accessing healthcare digitally. This will allow us to feedback what we have learnt to decision makers and improve patient experience as the NHS’ digital health programme moves forward.

What’s next?

Over the next two months, we will be analysing our findings and preparing a set of recommendations. In late June and July we will share what we have learnt with key decision makers, service commissioners, and local councillors, as well as with other Healthwatch organisations and local people in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.

In many cases, the NHS’ digital first strategy is changing how local people can access services. We want to make sure that the opinions and concerns of patients, residents, and carers in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster are listened to and taken into account by decision makers during this period of change.