RSN calls on Government to ensure rural is not left behind in digital health care plans

Minsters, clinical leaders and health experts have been meeting to discuss how technology can help cut waiting lists and improve care for patients.

Following the NHS’s 75th birthday, the NHS Recovery Summit focused on “digital innovation and technology to help deliver better care for patients and boost work to cut waiting lists.”

Roundtable sessions covering elective, primary, urgent and emergency and adult social care were held alongside demonstrations showcasing how technology in the NHS is transforming care for patients. Delegates were also asked to consider how the NHS could go further and faster in embracing new technology to improve access to services, as well as boosting the use of NHS 111 and the NHS App to ease pressures and improve choice for patients.

In May this year, the Government announced plans to “empower patients to choose where they receive their NHS care through the NHS App.” Patients should be offered a minimum of five providers to choose from so they can make informed decisions based on information about waiting times, distance to travel and quality of care.  However, a recent study has found that 4.2m adults have either never used the internet, or not used it in the last three months.  The majority are over the age of 65.

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive of the Rural Services Network, says she welcomes the advances but not at the cost of our rural communities:

“Whilst technology has a big role to play in our future, it is essential that those in power don’t forget those on the wrong side of the digital divide.  Poor connectivity in rural areas, be that slow broadband or poor mobile coverage, means many communities don’t have access to things like the NHS App.  I want to understand what measures the Government is putting in place to improve services for them.”


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