Following the patient survey and subsequent report produced in Weymouth and Portland, the PPG chairs group and Primary Care Network (PCN) created a working group to identify key themes that came from the research.

One of the areas the group identified was 93% of respondents aged up to 74 accessed the internet and of those who regularly surfed the net, many used it to access social media, read the latest news, keep in touch with loved ones, and do banking and shopping, but less than half used it to manage their health online.

The group was keen to show experienced internet users how they could simply access digital health tools that could speed up the process for interacting with their practice while freeing up the GP’s telephone line for people who were less confident in managing their health online. One practice said approximately 40% of calls that come into their admin team were from patients requesting their test results.

Digital volunteers were initially recruited from people who had previously volunteered at the Weymouth Covid vaccination centre. A bespoke training session was created with Dorset Council’s Embedded Digital Champions programme and an experienced trainer from Cranborne & Lake Road PPG to give the digital volunteers the right information and confidence when speaking to members of the public.

The digital volunteers programme launched on 25 May 2022 at the Dorchester Road practice offering a drop-in service for any patients wanting to know how to register, access and use online services such as Systmonline, eConsult, the NHS app, and the Airmid app. The service was an instant success with the most popular requests from people was registering and getting access to the full online service for Systmonline, downloading and registering for the NHS app and people viewing their test results through their devices.

The volunteers now operate in most GP surgeries in Weymouth and Portland and are supporting NHS Dorset’s Digital Services at Home Team (D@SH) to introduce digital technology in the management of long-term medical conditions including hypertension.

For more information on the Weymouth and Portland digital volunteers please contact: