Newham at the forefront of NHS video consultation revolution

Newham at the forefront of NHS video consultation revolution

Video consultations have arrived in Newham with 20 GP practices launching video consultations to improve access for their patients. Patients will be able to book them with their GP via the Patient Access app, and in time, the NHS App.

NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which has been at the forefront of digital primary care in England received funding from NHS England for this video consultation roll-out - so it can improve primary care services for local people and share learning across north east London in advance of the wider roll-out of video consulting across England by 2021.

Chris Riley, Newham CCG IT project manager, said: “Many people now use video apps like Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp on a daily basis in their personal and work lives. It is important that the NHS in Newham is able to keep up with technological advances and offer people access to health care advice using similar technology.”

In many situations, the use of video technology offers benefits as an alternative to traditional face-to-face consultations. It means you can be seen from home, which is particularly important for patients with mobility issues. It can make seeing a doctor less daunting, as well as being easier to fit into busy family and working lives, as there is no need to travel to the practice. Not having to physically attend a doctor’s surgery may also help to reduce the spread of infections.

Balaam Street Surgery in Plaistow, which has led the way in introducing video consulting, now provides six to ten video consultation slots a day and offers patients support if they want help to be able to use the service. The consultations integrate seamlessly with the practice’s face-to-face, online and telephone consultations giving patients greater choice over how they access local healthcare services.

Dr Barry Sullman, clinical lead and GP, said: “Video consultations have been brilliant at giving some of my patients ‘digital legs.’ I can now easily see and treat patients who are house bound or have trouble walking, as well as healthy people who find it logistically difficult to make it to the surgery, such as having to take a heavy pram down four flights of stairs. I have also been able to see agoraphobic patients, who would not have been able to travel to the surgery. Carers who are often rushing between clients also benefit from this technology as it enables them to "meet" the doctor at a time and place which suits them.

“The technology has been working well and has enabled the quick eyeball assessment as well as a more detailed assessment of visible problems such as skin rashes. We will be sharing our learning and experiences with colleagues across Newham and London and will continue to work with our patients to make their experience of accessing primary care services as easy as possible.”