All GP practices in Wales can now access a new system, which allows people to have online appointments with their doctor and other healthcare professionals.
Working together, the Welsh Government and TEC Cymru produced a proposal for the rapid delivery of the video consultation service for all GPs in Wales in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The service was already part of a trial within the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
As well as helping people keep to the stay-at-home rules, the new system will allow doctors and nurses who are self-isolating, but willing and able to work, to continue to serve their communities.
Remote consultations will help practices keep frontline staff and their patients safe by reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus as Wales enters the second week of strict stay-at-home rules.
Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething said:
“Innovations such as this enables government to help frontline staff keep people safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. It also means another layer of protection for NHS staff.
“We are changing the way the NHS operates. By offering telephone and video appointments, we can reduce pressure on frontline staff and better support people with information and advice without unnecessary contact. We are now looking at the next phase of this service, which will include rolling this out into places like hospitals.”
Video appointments will be offered if doctors want more information than a telephone call can provide. In these cases, surgeries can provide simple instructions about how people can access the free and easy-to-use technology that will work with their smartphone, tablet or PC.
TEC Cymru has already enabled 290 GPs across 73 practices on the new platform; more than 430 video consultations have taken place since its launch on 16 March.
The efforts to accelerate the rapid deployment of the NHS Wales Video Consulting Service have been supported by Life Sciences Hub Wales, an organisation who are leading all life sciences industry’s efforts to support NHS Wales’ fight against coronavirus.
Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales said:
“We are here to help unite industry and get the much-needed products, services and supplies where they are needed to tackle COVID-19. The NHS Wales Video Consulting Service demonstrates how the deployment of new technology can support our health service and help save lives.
“The rapid deployment of video consultations would not be possible without programmes such as Digital Health Ecosystem Wales. Those collaborations work to ensure that our health service can access the latest innovations available to them. Today, Life Sciences Hub Wales is privileged to be able to aid the accelerated delivery of such innovations in the most urgent of situations.
“If you’re a business or individual and think you can help in the fight, we want to hear from you. Get in touch with the team at Life Sciences Hub Wales and we can help you help us all by linking you up with people and businesses who can assist you to make a real difference to lives in Wales and beyond.”
Mike Ogonovsky, associate director of informatics, at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said:
“This programme is a demonstration of how we are rolling out tools to support clinicians who have demanded an alternative way to deliver care to their patients. It’s already been deeply rewarding to get such positive feedback from clinicians and patients.”
TEC Cymru is training health board staff, who are working with frontline teams throughout Wales. Healthcare providers who want to access further information and training about the NHS Wales Video Consulting Service should visit digitalhealth.wales/tec-cymru/vc-service.