NHS Dorset recognise the need for support to our public and workforce in the evolving use of digital tools in changing the way we work and access services. To achieve the empowerment of our citizens (success measure 5 of NHS England ICS What Good Looks Like) and help improve access and life expectancy (outcome 3 from the NHS Dorset Joint Forward Plan: 2023-2028 to reduce the gap in healthy life expectancy from 19 years to 15 years by 2043) we need to address two critical issues: digital skills gaps for both residents and ICS staff and health inequalities in particular geographical areas in Dorset.
The Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index Report highlighted that 27% of the population have very low digital skills capability and, for those who struggle, health services are the most difficult to access3. There will also be a percentage who do have the digital skills but require some level of signposting and help so that they can confidently access digital health technologies and services. This requires ICS staff to have the knowledge and digital skills to provide the necessary support, particularly for those in frontline roles. If no further action is taken to improve their skills, 5.8 million people will still be digitally excluded in 2032.
Research led by Dorset Chamber as part of the Local Skills Improvement Plan identified the ‘need to upskill current and future staff with basic digital skills (word, Excel, email) to support record management and use of medical technology’. It also raised the issues of cost and accessibility of courses with a desire for more online learning. Locally we have our Embedded Digital Champion programme, supporting learners to access free, online learning for all digital skill levels.
The work aligns with the local authority transformation programme, to improve care services, ensuring people and communities get the support and care they need. It clearly contributes to two priorities: driving economic prosperity and creating stronger healthier communities.
Specifically, it supports the Digital infrastructure and Inclusion Strategy where ‘the vision for Dorset is that in this increasingly digital modern world no place, no community, no individual will be left behind.’
Five strategy aims by 2025