PRESS RELEASE: for immediate release – 29th April 2020.

Contact: workwithus@citizensonline.org.uk | 07471 351629

Summary: Leading digital inclusion charity Citizens Online1Citizens Online are a leading organisation working on the problem of ‘digital exclusion’– the phenomenon where people are disadvantaged through the lack of access, skills or confidence regarding the internet. Find out more about our work at www.citizensonline.org.uk, find us on twitter @citizensonline1. has created a digital exclusion risk map of England, to help understand community needs in the Coronavirus pandemic.

The map can be found at: www.citizensonline.org.uk/gp-map. It shows:

  • GP surgeries with higher numbers of people aged 65 and older on their registers
  • GP surgeries with the lowest levels of digital engagement.

Organisations can use this information to help identify areas where there are more people who don’t tend to use digital tools, or who are not online at all. This can help groups to provide focused support so that people can still have access to information and social connections. In the the longer term, the map can be used to help target schemes that help people to access devices and develop their digital skills.

A screenshot from the interactive map, showing a range of GP surgeries in Birmingham where under 30% of patients are registered for online services. The surgeries are colour-coded according to the age profile of their patients.
  • Of 6,691 GP surgeries in England where there is Patient Online data, 3,854 (58%) had less than 30% of patients registered for online services as of February. 2,837 (42%) have more than 30% of patients registered2Where we refer to “online services” we mean: making GP appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions, and/or looking up personal details. Surgery name, size and location data are obtained from NHS Digital Patients Registered (March 2020). Data on availability and use of Patient Online services is from NHS Digital, latest data February 2020..
  • The UK government’s guidance on social distancing and self-isolation leads many of us to lean on digital solutions and services.
  • NHS 111 requests people use an online symptom checker rather than calling the service3NHS 111 “Check if you have coronavirus symptoms”..
  • A third of the population aged 65+ are not online (33.2%)4According to the ONS Internet Users data, in 2019 “Of the 4 million adults who had never used the internet in 2019, more than half (2.5 million) were aged 75 years and over”. The ONS Internet Users data is derived from the 40,000 sample Labour Force Survey..
  • The “most financially vulnerable” are less likely to have a landline, mobile, or broadband5According to Ofcom’s Access and inclusion in 2018 report (pdf): “People classified as ‘most financially vulnerable’ are less likely to have a landline, mobile, fixed broadband and/or pay TV and are more likely than average to live in a mobile-only household (28% vs. 21%)… Three in ten of the ‘most financially vulnerable’ group live in households without any internet access.”, and more likely to lack digital skills6The Department of Education’s Essential Digital Skills Framework defines the Essential Digital Skills “adults need to safely benefit from, participate in and contribute to the digital world.” The Lloyds 2019 Consumer Digital Index identifies that 11.9m people (22%) do not have these Essential Digital Skills. More than half of people aged 65 and over (55%) lack either Essential Digital Skills or Foundation skills (55%) compared to just 6% of those aged 15-34. Just 57% of people with a household income up to £11,499 have Essential Digital Skills for life, compared to 89% of those with a household income over £25,000..

Richard Denyer-Bewick, Citizens Online’s Managing Director, said:

“People of all ages may experience problems using the internet. As well as being at increased risk from the virus, older people are much more likely to be digitally excluded. Access to online GP services, and to trustworthy, up-to-date health information, has become even more necessary during the pandemic. We’ve created this map to help the health and social care sectors understand community needs in the Coronavirus pandemic. Together we can ensure people have access to information, devices, and digital skills support.”

ENDS


Notes for editors:

  1. Citizens Online are a leading organisation working on the problem of ‘digital exclusion’– the phenomenon where people are disadvantaged through the lack of access, skills or confidence regarding the internet. Find out more about our work at www.citizensonline.org.uk, find us on twitter @citizensonline1.
  2. Where we refer to “online services” we mean: making GP appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions, and/or looking up personal details. Surgery name, size and location data are obtained from NHS Digital Patients Registered (March 2020). Data on availability and use of Patient Online services is from NHS Digital, latest data February 2020.
  3. NHS 111 “Check if you have coronavirus symptoms”.
  4. According to the ONS Internet Users data, in 2019 “Of the 4 million adults who had never used the internet in 2019, more than half (2.5 million) were aged 75 years and over”. The ONS Internet Users data is derived from the 40,000 sample Labour Force Survey.
  5. According to Ofcom’s Access and inclusion in 2018 report (pdf): “People classified as ‘most financially vulnerable’ are less likely to have a landline, mobile, fixed broadband and/or pay TV and are more likely than average to live in a mobile-only household (28% vs. 21%)… Three in ten of the ‘most financially vulnerable’ group live in households without any internet access.”
  6. The Department of Education’s Essential Digital Skills Framework defines the Essential Digital Skills “adults need to safely benefit from, participate in and contribute to the digital world.” The Lloyds 2019 Consumer Digital Index identifies that 11.9m people (22%) do not have these Essential Digital Skills. More than half of people aged 65 and over (55%) lack either Essential Digital Skills or Foundation skills (55%) compared to just 6% of those aged 15-34. Just 57% of people with a household income up to £11,499 have Essential Digital Skills for life, compared to 89% of those with a household income over £25,000.