Secretary of State asked for detail of the government plans to end digital exclusion of older people

The National Pensioners’ Convention is asking the Secretary of State responsible for tackling digital exclusion if he is simply paying ‘lip service’ to helping more older people get online.

In a letter to the Rt. Hon. Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt cited the government’s current bid to ‘data grab’ everyone’s personal health files from GPs in England as a prime example.

The UK’s largest campaign group says all the information about NHS Digital’s plans to extract all the records to a central data base by 1st September can only be found on their website – and the only way you can choose to ‘opt-out’ of the data grab is by downloading a form for your GP online.

The NPC had written to the Minister asking about government plans on digital inclusion and exclusion of older people, but were dissatisfied by his reply. In response, the NPC is calling on the government to invest more to ensure that the drive to digital-only by the government and businesses does not exclude those who are not or cannot for whatever reason, get online.

In a new letter to the Minister on Digital Inclusion and Exclusion, Jan Shortt said: “Although you say it is a priority to ensure that nobody is left behind, there is no actual action stated in your letter as to what is intended to make that so.

The issue of patients’ records being collected by NHS Digital; the fact that everything to date has been online - nobody actually knew about it until a week or so ago - is a serious case in point. Although the process has now been delayed for two months, we are still concerned about the method of contact with 55 million patients, and an open, transparent explanation of the terms of reference for access to data, third party security and commercial use.”

She added: “We would like to know