On the 9th of April VHS,in collaboration with NHS National Education Scotland (NES) Digital Service, held a Zoom meeting to help explore the nature of the digital divide during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Twenty-two people from a wide range of third sector organisations participated and three from NHS Digital Service. Organisations represented were predominantly national charities: Waverley Care, Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland, Teapot Trust, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, Terrence Higgins Trust, Scottish Palliative Care Partnership, Home Energy Scotland, Breastfeeding Network and Diabetes UK. One local voluntary organisation, Highland Senior Citizens Network, participated and one third sector interface, Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations. Three national third sector intermediaries participated: Senscot, Health and Social Care ALLIANCE and SCVO.
The discussion was informal but designed to strengthen understanding between voluntary health organisations and NHS Digital Service, with a view to holding a future event on digital health and health inequalities. Participants were invited to share intelligence on the impact of their services, support and activities being driven online. How are third sector organisations re-configuring services and support to meet these challenges and what barriers are they trying to overcome? Is the move to digital during the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating health inequalities or opening up new and better ways to support people in future?