Concerns have been raised that a digital divide is making it difficult for some Nottingham residents to book a coronavirus vaccine appointment.

The issue was discussed at the Aspley, Bilborough and Leen Valley Committee meeting last month.

Those eligible to receive the jab are mainly being directed to book appointments online – a barrier for those who do not have access to a digital device.

Latest ONS data suggests that over five million adults in the UK have never used the internet or accessed it for over three months.

Aspley councillor, Carole McCulloch, says that she has been fighting for greater digital inclusion for years.

She said: “I’ve been fighting for a few years to make Wi-Fi free because everything’s digital now and if you’re elderly you’ve got no chance.”

The problem has been exasperated by the fact that those eligible for the vaccine could be socially isolated.

The Council say that social prescribing link workers will help to set up a group which will assist those who are isolated and digitally excluded.

Residents can book appointments over the phone but because it is a national phone line it can be extremely busy, meaning that some are having to wait hours to get through.

Bilborough councillor, Wendy Smith, tried to use the telephone service to enquire about making an appointment on behalf of her 88-year-old mother but experienced great difficulty.

She said: “When I tried to ring it was engaged for hours.

“I tried the next day and was 42nd in the queue so I didn’t persist with it.”

Credit: Olimpia Zagnat
Nottingham City Council Building

Dr Jonathan Harte who works at Aspley Medical Centre is well aware of the problems but warns that there is no quick fix.

He said: “I’d like to explore as many ways as possible to get our patients vaccinated but we can’t go outside the current confines of the scheme.

“What I want to make sure is that we’re not missing important groups of patients who are socially isolated and don’t have somebody who can take them to vaccine centres, or don’t have a way of contacted someone to make an appointment.”

Dr Harte also tells people that contacting their GP to book an appointment won’t work.

He added: “I wouldn’t recommend you call your GP because we have no access to appointments.

“What we will be trying to do is proactively contact patients when they reach the right cohort.

“But I appreciate that it’s very frustrating for a lot of patients at the moment as well as a lot of relatives, friends and carers of patients who are struggling to get through.”