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Volume 517: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2010

4. What recent assessment he has made of the potential contribution of StartHere to his Department’s programmes to reduce the digital divide in respect of health services. (20932)

Access to information is a key pillar of our plans to empower patients and service users. We want to open up access to trusted health and care information to everyone, including through digital channels. Independent organisations have an important role to play in helping to ensure that health and care information reaches everyone. StartHere is a good example of how such organisations can help. I am very keen to see StartHere’s response to our consultation, “An Information Revolution”.

I welcome the Minister’s positive response. Does he agree with me and, by the way, with Citizens Advice and the Royal British Legion that StartHere has the unique benefit of starting from the point of view of the person who needs information? It therefore increases efficiency and has the potential to save the health service money. Will he meet me to discuss how to realise those potential benefits?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for those comments. I pay tribute to him because he has been a champion of StartHere ever since its existence. He and I agree that it is crucial that information is provided to empower patients and citizens, not all of whom have access to websites and the internet. I am more than happy to meet him to discuss this further.