Public Services need Internet Jump Start
Reform Scotland calls for online information to be condition of funding
Reform Scotland, the independent, non-party think-tank, has revealed new research showing the scale of the challenge facing public services in meeting public expectations on website provision.
In its Reform Scotland Briefing, released today, Reform Scotland reveals that:
· Up to half of schools have no website
· In some regions almost 40% of GP surgeries have no online presence
This picture is in stark contrast to Scottish Government ambitions for digital progress across Government and those bodies it supports. Reform Scotland recommends that there is a requirement placed on any organisation, public or independent, which is providing a service to the public and is in receipt of public money, that they must have a website containing at least basic contact details and how services are accessed.
Their original research reveals that online information about local public services is lagging far behind government and public expectations. Details of online presence were collected from almost 600 schools and almost 300 GP practices across eight areas . The data collected has demonstrated huge regional variations, but established a clear trend that information was difficult and often impossible for parents and patients to access.
Commenting, Reform Scotland’s Research Director Alison Payne said:
“This is the 21st century. The internet is taken for granted as a means of information gathering and communication; it is high time that public services caught up with public expectation for online access. Our research demonstrated a wide variety of website quality, although far too many schools and GPs have no online presence at all.
“We should aspire to a situation where all of us can access the information we need online, and interact with key public services conveniently. If we are to see a situation where more of us can order prescriptions, book appointments, review pupil progress or register for services online, the first requirement is a basic website for all public services.
“In a world where online access is now a routine part of every day for ordinary Scots, those organisations that are in receipt of public money should have placed on them an obligation to provide information online. Frankly, nothing less will be good enough.”
The bulletin can be viewed here.