Digital inclusion

We are committed to ensuring that high-quality and timely healthcare is available for everyone in Surrey and that no one’s circumstances disadvantage them from receiving the care and support they need to lead a healthy life.

As digital technologies become ever more commonplace – through, for example, the NHS App, GP surgery websites, and online appointments systems, we are determined that no one should be left behind. We are committed to the principles of parity of care and that new technologies complement rather than replace existing ways of working.

What is digital inclusion?

Digital inclusion is often defined in terms of:

  1. Digital skills - Being able to use computers and the internet
  2. Connectivity - Access to the internet
  3. Accessibility - Services should be designed to meet all users’ needs, including those dependent on assistive technology to access digital services

There is seldom just one reason why people are digitally excluded, and there is no single approach to solving it. We estimate that approx. 30% of the Surrey population do not have access to digital technologies or choose not to use them if they do. We also know that this is broadly linked to deprivation, which in turn is broadly related to poorer health outcomes. 

We have created a targeted programme of action to identify those most at risk of exclusion from digital NHS services and ensure they have the support they need to access healthcare services.

Actions outlined in the Programme include:

  • Ensuring that all of Surrey Heartlands has access to adequate broadband speeds, both in cities and more rural areas
  • Creating a clear ‘one-stop shop’ of free resources for residents who wish to find free Wifi hubs, digital skills training, or access to public devices such as computers or laptops in their local area
  • Improving the communication and network between existing support offered by charities, Surrey County Council and volunteer & community groups across Surrey Heartlands
  • Working directly with organisations offering all levels of help to identified high-risk groups (for example, those escaping domestic abuse, those over 65, and low-income households) to ensure that access to relevant resources around Digital Inclusion is included in their package of support
  • Identifying and sharing knowledge of both national and local funding opportunities for groups to improve and grow their offer of support and technology to residents