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Berkshire West Digital Health Champions

A scheme has started to recruit Digital Health Champions in Berkshire West who can help people access healthcare services via their phones or laptops.

The Champions don’t have to be an IT whizz , they just need a little spare time (usually around two hours a week) and enthusiasm to support others to use the internet to manage their health online.

Full training will be given to enable Champions to help people learn the basics of computers and the internet, giving advice, information and support to patients who want to access health and wellbeing services online or improve their confidence with the basics. 

The Champions work with learners on a one-to-one basis or in a small group, usually in a public venue like a doctor’s surgery, hospital waiting area, WiFi enabled café or community centre. They can also help people remotely, over the telephone or via Zoom.

The key areas of their work are to:

  • Understand and overcome people’s barriers to managing their health online
  • Support people to use the internet safely and securely
  • Develop the basic digital skills patients need to use health websites and apps
  • Overcome accessibility barriers including visual impairment, hearing and memory loss
  • Engage older people who rely on health services but are the least likely to be online

Berkshire West CCG is working with NHSX, the digital technology unit for the NHS and Digital Unite to recruit and deploy Digital Health Champions across our area.

Kamal Bahia who is leading the work at the CCG, said: “One in five people nationally don’t have essential digital skills for everyday life, and the most frequent users of health and social care are the least likely to be online. It’s really important people are given support to start accessing their healthcare digitally. It means they can look after their own health and wellbeing and support others they care for. They are able to access health services quickly and easily, find vital information and support and be more connected to their friends and family.

“Of course we know some people need a helping hand and that’s where our Digital Health Champions come in. And by volunteering as a Champion people can develop their own skills and knowledge as well as getting huge satisfaction from knowing they’ve made such a difference to someone else,” Kamal added.

Champions also receive official certificates which are useful for their CVs, and they receive support from fellow Champions and other mentors from across the NHS.

Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Kamal at kamalbahia@nhs.net or joshua.baxter@nhsx.nhs.uk

If you need medical help and are unsure what to do, call NHS 111 for help and advice. They are available 24 hours a day.