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NHS RESPONDS TO COVID-19 WITH ONLINE CONSULTATIONS

Posted on the 27th April 2020

With the country currently under lockdown, patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria can now see their clinicians via online consultations, from their own homes.

This means that regular appointments can continue safely even if patients or healthcare professionals are self-isolating.

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust has implemented the new system called ‘Attend Anywhere’ with around 700 healthcare staff at the Trust presently able to do online consultations. This is to be ramped up over the coming weeks to include thousands of clinicians who will be able to support a huge amount of people across the North West.

The software has been introduced to help people experiencing chronic pain in their muscles or joints, and adults and expecting or new mums with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Dr Ayesha Rahim, Deputy Medical Director and Chief Clinical Information Officer at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“This is really good news for the people of Lancashire and South Cumbria who can rest assured that despite the lockdown it is business as usual at our Trust. We’ve really been working hard to find innovative solutions to ensure we’re able to safely care for our patients while adhering to the Government’s social distancing rules. Many people can now attend appointments either by telephone or via an online consultation software that is both secure and safe.

“All they need to do is click a link on a tablet, smart phone, or laptop that has access to a camera or a webcam. The option is available to patients who are at most risk of COVID-19, such as people over 70, mums-to-be, anyone with a weakened immune system, and also to those people who are struggling the most with their mental health. What this means is that service users can have access to healthcare even though they may be shielding at home. We’ve had great feedback so far from patients, carers and staff, including our older service users who have found the system quick and easy to use.”

The Trust has also reassured people who do not want to have a virtual appointment that face-to-face consultations are still available. Clinicians will also hold appointments in person where they feel they are needed.

Over the coming weeks, it will be rolled out to include services that provide mental health support to children and young people and the Trust’s Mindsmatter Service that supports people by providing talking therapies.

It is also expected to reduce time spent by clinicians travelling to and from appointments, mileage claims and carbon emissions.