As hospitals begin the
resumption of outpatient services paused during the Covid-19
pandemic, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, is
introducing video technology so that patients with a follow up or
routine hospital appointment booked during the next six months,
will instead be offered a video consultation which they can have
from the comfort and safety of their own home.
Executive medical director,
Jeremy Cundall, explains, "We're undertaking a review of every
patient due to attend an outpatient appointment with us during the
next six months, whether at University Hospital of North Durham,
Darlington Memorial Hospital, Bishop Auckland Hospital or one of
our community hospitals.
"Where clinically appropriate,
patients will be offered their appointment via video consultation,
meaning they don't have to come to hospital. The technology
is very secure. Patients will be given a weblink which they
can use on their own devise - phone, tablet, laptop etc.
They'll be greeted onscreen by a receptionist who will check their
details - just as they would if they came to an outpatient
department. The receptionist will then leave the consultation
so the conversation with the clinician is as private, personal and
professional as if they were in the same room. Patients who
don't have access to technology shouldn't worry, there will be the
option to go along to one of our sites, a community hospital for
instance, where someone will help access their consultation using
equipment provided by the Trust.
"Of course, clinicians will
still need to see some patients face to face and newly referred
patients will also be asked to come to clinic in person, but for
many people there will be enormous benefits to having a video
consultation - which is so much more convenient and even cheaper as
there's no journey to hospital, no need to find and pay for a
parking space and no potential wait in a busy clinic.
Clinicians won't need to travel between sites as much meaning
they can use that time to see more patients. Over time, this
will reduce waits for an appointment. It
will also help connect patients in our most remote and rural
communities with clinicians. We recognise that not everyone
is comfortable with technology and for those people there will
still be the option for a face to face consultation.
"There's immense potential in
the technology and it's important our community has the confidence
this will be effective. A tele-stethoscope, for example, can
be used by a cardiologist during a video consultation so if they
have a patient referred with a murmur they can listen to them
remotely and decide whether or not they need further investigation
such as an echocardiogram.
"We'll use the technology for a
year initially and will be seeking patient feedback, however
organisations already using it, such as NHS Scotland, believe that
patients are happy with their consultations and the added benefit
Ends 27th May 2020
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham