Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust is stepping up the use of digital video consultations which will help to support patients during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
Video consultations are being trialled as appropriate across a number of departments which helps staff and patients maintain social distancing and limit the spread of the virus.
As the Trust moves into the ‘recovery phase’ of elective work in the NHS, the use of video consultations and phone calls will continue with our patients.
However, it’s important that patients know if they need to be seen face to face, then arrangements will be made for this and referrals will be reviewed as soon as they are received. Patients with a high clinical need will be seen as soon as possible and suspected cancer referrals will be given the highest priority.
Over the last few weeks, video consultations have been used to speak to patients as required, for example for some pre-arranged appointment times set up by the relevant department.
Patients are directly advised if they are eligible for a video consultation by the relevant department in the Trust and they can then choose if they wish to use the service.
The digital consultations allow patients to consult with their clinician remotely through a video feed on their own device, including phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
One of the departments which has been trialling video consultations is Cardiology.
Clinical Lead Nurse for Cardiology, Emma Edgar, said: “Video consultations are a useful resource to have especially in a time of pandemic and gives us the opportunity to support patients and assess problems. We are currently in the trial stages of using the technology and assessing for which patient group a video call would be helpful and practicable.
“The technology is secure and you can rely on its confidentiality. My patients have found it relatively easy to use but of course we continue to support patients who may not have access to technology.
“Recently, a cardiology patient contacted me as he had a recurrence of his heart rhythm problem. I made an appointment for him in my clinic and we had a video consultation during which I was able to assess the problem and come up with a treatment plan.”
Clinical Informatics Lead at the Trust Dr Matt Shepherd said: “We are all currently having to adapt to new ways of working and it is important that we make use of every opportunity to support our patients.
“Our priority is always to give the best quality care and we are pleased to be able to offer this as an option to our patients, where appropriate.”
Where video consultation appointments are available patients have the opportunity to discuss their options fully. If patients decide to use a video consultation they are provided with all of the relevant information they require ahead of their appointment. Any feedback provided by patients who use the video consultations is channelled back into improving the patient experience.
It is important to remember that we are here for anyone who needs emergency care: please call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. For anything less serious please visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111.