A STAGGERING 21,685 consultations have been carried out virtually between medical staff and patients during the past 12 months in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
As part of the Welsh Government’s response to COVID-19, TEC Cymru and partners established the NHS Wales Video Consulting (VC) Service that provides safe access to healthcare online. The service is utilised across all health settings in Wales, including pharmacies, prisons, opticians, and dental practices.
Clinicians and patients in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area agreed that the greatest benefit of having a virtual consultation was the lowered risk of catching infection, with 93 percent saying they would be happy to use the VC Service again in the future.
Across Wales almost a quarter of a million video consultations have been held, with the highest number of users in physiotherapy as well as speech and language therapy.
The findings reinforce the Welsh Government’s Help Us, Help You campaign, which encourages people to get to know the breadth of NHS services and options available to them through the NHS 111 Wales website.
Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, said, “This useful evaluation shows promising results on the use of video consultation in healthcare settings. It’s encouraging to see that this service has been highly rated by both patients and clinicians and I hope that it will continue to be used and developed beyond the pandemic to allow wider access to healthcare services.”
The evaluation of the service showed it is well accepted across a wide range of care sectors and specialities and is clinically suitable for a wide range of patient demographic groups regardless of health status, age, gender, ethnicity, household income, and place (urban/rural).
Gemma Johns, TEC Cymru Research & Evaluation Lead said, “TEC Cymru follow a robust phased approach to its Research and Evaluation. We learn more as we move through each phase and utilise each dataset to support local Health Boards to make better informed decisions for their staff and patients.
“In the new Phase 2a evaluation VC report, we have been able to deep dive into patient and clinician experiences and identify how the benefits clearly outweigh the challenges. We have been able to demonstrate how well VC is working for our Welsh patients and clinicians and also the opportunity to challenge many assumptions on digital exclusion in Wales. The findings in this report seek to support Health Boards and the Welsh Government on future decisions and ways of working in NHS Wales and the sustainable use of VC moving forward.”
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said, “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded.
“By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us, help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”
Have you used the VC service? A series of focus groups is being held online throughout August for anyone who has used the VC service to share their experience. Find more information on how to get involved here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/phase-2-data-follow-up-groups-tickets-159459861739