Currently, perhaps the least discussed harm of the digital revolution is the cost of access. Over the past 5 years, the use of food banks has increased by 128%; the latest smartphones and fast broadband connections are more than beyond reach for many. Yet beyond , say, the consequences of digital poverty for a young person in education, the implications of digital exclusion for individual health and even for the health of the nation are significant: digital poverty may cost lives.
For those that were connected during COVID, they were not just privileged in being able to access health information, have online consultations with their GP (or therapist), or even use health Apps to keep well. They could also be model citizens, using Test and Trace facilities and the COVID App, and support the COVID recovery.
For health services, concerned practitioners could stay closely in contact with their connected patients, and even monitor them remotely. But we were not in this all together, and many could not support their health with digital devices. So, when it comes to health and wellness, could the injustice of a digital divide be any more stark? Is digital inclusion now fundamental to improving health and advancing equality, and a matter of public health?
In this workshop, we will hear from those working in Primary Care, the National COVID-19 Response Centre, the London Homeless Health Team, and from those young people in Care what digital exclusion means in health today.