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Patients in Swansea get comfortable accessing the NHS from their sofa

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people on a video call

Swansea is leading the way in adapting to new ways of accessing the NHS since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 10 percent of patients in Swansea have made use of video consultations with their GPs and other medics, the highest proportion in all of Wales’ health board areas.

33,327 patients in the Swansea Bay University Health Board region have received medical care virtually since the service was rolled out in March 2020, the largest percentage of people in all of Wales.

The second highest was Aneurin Bevan University Health Board at six per cent, closely followed by Cardiff & Vale University Health Board at just over five percent. 

In fact, more than 139,500 video consultations took place in Wales over the last twelve months through the NHS Wales Video Consulting Service and more than 50 specialities within NHS Wales are now able to use the video consulting service.

This new way of accessing vital Wales NHS services has seen patients avoid 558,118 miles and 12,350 hours of travel, not to mention saving 163,977kg of CO2 during the same period.

What’s more 91 percent of patients said they would use the video consultation service again, with 92 percent rating them as “excellent, very good or good”.

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Video consultations are delivered via a communication platform called ‘Attend Anywhere’ and are quick and easy to set-up through your existing smartphone, tablet or PC and there is no need for installations or downloads. The service is safe and secure and will help patients see a healthcare professional more conveniently, saving time and money.

Patients are likely to be offered a video consultation if their GP, nurse or healthcare professional wants more information than a telephone call can provide.

More patients in Swansea Bay have video conferences with NHS services than any other part of Wales

Dr Alka Ahuja, Virtual Consultation Clinical Lead at Technology Enabled Care Cymru which delivers the video consulting service alongside NHS Wales, said: “Video consulting has made a huge difference to patients and health care professionals, ensuring that the NHS could continue to deliver safe and timely care during the pandemic. Feedback from patients and clinicians shows it is convenient, saving travel, money and time and video consulting is here to stay and will be one of the ways that people will continue to receive health care not just now but for the future.”

A recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign also revealed overwhelming public support in Swansea for accessing the NHS in new and more convenient ways – even from the comfort of their own sofa – with 35 percent of patients saying they are happy to continue to use virtual appointments even when restrictions are lifted.

The survey also revealed that 88 percent of people in Swansea agree that it is important that people now access the NHS in different ways. The Welsh Government’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign is encouraging people to get to know the different ways they can access the NHS so they can be seen and treated quicker.  

While the Welsh Government accelerated the rollout of the NHS Wales Video Consulting Service to help the NHS in tackling Covid-19, the service will continue to be widely available so people can access healthcare in a convenient and timely manner both now and in the future. The service can be used for out-patient’s appointments, regular therapy sessions, or for other professional advice and support. Video consulting is simple and easy to access and it allows for a carer or a loved one to attend with you.

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Whether you’re in the comfort of your own home, at work or at a loved one’s, the NHS Wales Video Consulting Service enables you to access the same high standard of care. However, video consulting won’t be suitable for every appointment, and the NHS is keen to stress that face-to-face appointments are of course still available to anyone who needs urgent care or is unable to access their doctor by video. 

It is very important for people with Covid symptoms – no matter how mild – to self-isolate and book a test. And in a limb or life-threatening emergency such as choking, chest pain, blacking out or serious blood loss, always call 999 or go to A&E.

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The Video Consulting Service 

How Does It Work?

  • The Video Consulting Service is delivered via a communication platform called Attend Anywhere.
  • Your health or social care provider will give you a website address for its video clinic. Most services will give you an appointment date and time when you should start your video call. You do not need to download an App or create an account.
  • Video consulting is not suitable for all types of consultations, for example, if you need a physical examination or a procedure. Your health or social care provider can advise you on what is appropriate for you.

What are the Key Features of Using ‘Attend Anywhere’?

  • No installation or downloads needed – the service is web-based, so it’s easy to use.
  • It is free for patients to use (except if using mobile data).
  • No recording of the video appointment is possible.
  • Safe and secure virtual Waiting Rooms and Meeting Rooms.
  • Confidential and anonymised.
  • Automatically tests the call for video and audio, to check the device is suitable.
  • Automatically asks the patient to accept the camera and microphone for easy access.
  • Comparable treatment, care and support as an in-person appointment in many ways.

To find out more about accessing the Video Consulting Service please visit: https://digitalhealth.wales/tec-cymru/vc-service/i-am-patient/what-nhs-wales-video-consulting-service

(Lead image: Anna Shvets / Pexels.com)

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