Health Services: Rural Areas

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 17th May 2019.

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Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department taking to enable the use of digital technology to increase access to healthcare for people in rural communities.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Digital technology is improving access to healthcare for rural communities:

- In April 2018, NHS Digital published a digital inclusion guide for health and social care aimed at local health and care organisations to help them to take practical steps to support digital inclusion in their communities, including those in rural areas who are more likely to be digitally excluded;

- We are working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that health and care needs are taken into account in national digital infrastructure policy, are running two test beds under Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s 5G programme focused on improving access, and the 5G programme itself will address rural connectivity; and

- The NHS App is now connected in over 52% of general practitioner (GP) practices. It provides a universal offer regardless of postcode. It gives patients a single safe and secure means to interact with their GP, including access to their GP record, make GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions, access 111 online for urgent medical questions. The improved NHS website has over 40 million visits a month.

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