Digital Exclusion Report 2021

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Lewisham engaged with people more likely to be digitally excluded to gain a better understanding of how this might impact their experience with health and care services. They spoke with older people, people with English as their second language, and people with disabilities and found that:

  • Digital exclusion can be the result of a variety of factors, including affordability and limited accessibility because of disabilities, lack of support and language barriers.
  • People’s access to health and social care were mixed - some found remote GP consultations to be beneficial and were understanding of the need to shift to these digital care methods whilst the pandemic spread rapidly. Others were unhappy with the quality of care and treatment received using remote consultations and didn’t feel confident with the diagnosis and/or the treatment plan.
  • All the participants advocated for a return to face-to-face appointments.
  • Numerous participants highlighted the challenges they faced when trying to get through on the telephone.
  • Waiting times for appointments were undesirable with some people not being able to receive appointments for over two weeks, which echoes similar experiences prior to the pandemic.
  • Some residents experienced multiple barriers when trying to access health care support (affordability, lack of IT skills, and language barriers) which caused high levels of stress and anxiety.

Through their engagement, it is evident that most participants preferred face-to-face appointments as they value them more than the digital approach. Services must ensure that they deliver a hybrid approach of in-person and remote consultations which meets the needs of the local population.

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General details

Report title 
Digital Exclusion Report 2021
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Lewisham
Date of publication 
Friday, 10 December, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 1 March, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 31 July, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
North Lewisham Primary Care Network (NLPCN)
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.