search.noResults

search.searching

dataCollection.invalidEmail
note.createNoteMessage

search.noResults

search.searching

orderForm.title

orderForm.productCode
orderForm.description
orderForm.quantity
orderForm.itemPrice
orderForm.price
orderForm.totalPrice
orderForm.deliveryDetails.billingAddress
orderForm.deliveryDetails.deliveryAddress
orderForm.noItems
HEALTH


In a matter of months, use of NHS Near Me has soared from 300 consultations a week to 19,000, and half a million appointments have now been carried out online. Medical practice will never be the same again


Appointments with destiny


BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


Before Covid-19 hit, a little- known video consulting platform was used by doctors to connect with patients in the more remote areas of Scotland. NHS Near Me, or the Attend


Anywhere service as it was known at the time, had regular weekly traffic of around 300 con- sultations per week, and it was considered a success. As of December 2020, that fig-


ure is now running at 19,000 con- sultations every week, with more than half a million appointments now having been carried out online. And it is not just GP use; the platform has been expanded into social care, mental health, nurse practitioner and community health work as needs have arisen. Hazel Archer, from the Scottish


Government’s Technology Enabled Care Programme, who heads up the service, said: “Having carried out over half a million appoint- ments is a significant and symbolic milestone. A scale-up of such mag- nitude has not been seen before and it’s testimony to how it’s been co-designed and delivered. She adds: “I would like to thank


everyone across all the health boards and health and social care partnerships, social care, and third sector who have worked so hard to make this happen. We have been focused on offering


choice and making services more accessible. We have made a lot of progress but we are focused on continuous improvement.” Such has been the impact that


it is unlikely that medical practice will ever return to the normal way of doing things. Health secretary Jeane Freeman signalled as much when she told the Health and So- cial Care Alliance Scotland’s annual conference that the digital means of communication was here to stay. She didn’t go as far as Westmin-


ster health secretary Matt Hancock, who had called for appointments to be “digital by default” but she said the gains that had been made through Near Me had been “hugely positive” as an alternative to face- to-face appointments which had become extremely challenging to fulfil in a pandemic. Freeman said: “So the BMA


[British Medical Association] are are very clear on this, the Royal College of General Practitioners are very clear – and I think they’re right – there is a big space for digital that works for very, very many patients and GPs, but that shouldn’t knock out face-to-face.” Dr Andrew Cowie, deputy chair


of the BMA’s Scottish GP Commit- tee, added: “It’s fair to say that we will need to embed the kind of digital innovations that have sup- ported more remote consultations throughout the past few months. Tese are necessary to cut down


18 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21


footfall in GP practices, and reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 in waiting rooms. “However in some cases the


only really effective way to as- sess a patient is face-to-face, for example patients who require physical examinations, or those who are hard of hearing. Tere are also patients who do not have easy access to the devices neces- sary for consultation at a distance. “For all these reasons, as well


as patient preference, we hope to gradually increase the number of face-to-face consultations as it be- comes safe and possible to do so. In those circumstances GPs need continued and assured supplies of PPE for the long-term – something which improved significantly after a slow start earlier this year.”


Near Me was given a shot in the arm when it received a £25m funding boost as a result of the Scottish Government’s infrastruc- ture investment plan. Te investment was earmarked


for the system development required in response to the surge of usage for the service, which is based on Australian technology platform Attend Anywhere, which launched in that country in 1998. It represented a spending com-


mitment in excess of 100 times over and above the sum the service received for its largely rural de- ployment in 2019. In that year, GP


practices across Scotland received £9m to upgrade their premises and IT systems, of which £200,000 was assigned to supporting the deploy- ment of the platform. Te Skype-like service has


been used remotely by a range of clinicians, including GPs, physio- therapists, nurses, psychologists, dieticians, occupational health and community care workers. It is also being expanded into acute medicine with a growth in use by hospital-based clinicians for out- patient appointments.


The rollout has been further supported by a digital programme being carried out by NHS 24 – the inbound response handling service for the NHS in Scotland – to equip GP practices around the country with the design of local practice websites. Dr Laura Ryan, medical director


of NHS 24, told the health and sport committee at the Scottish Parliament this week how the gp.scot resource has now reached 60 practices in Scotland. She said:


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68