ITTS are working with NHS Highland to expand the service which currently exists between Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and Thurso Hospital, 176 km to the north. New videoconsultation (VC) clinics have now been established at a further 2 sites across the Highland region:
- Portee Hospital, Isle of Skye - service operational since August 2012
- Belford Hospital, Fort William - service operational since September 2012
The initiative aims to benefit both patients and medical staff by reducing waiting times, cancellations due to weather, and travel times, enabling more patients to be seen, more often. The new equipment is also regularly used for meetings and staff education.
Around 150 patients are expected to take advantage of the service on the Isle of Skye which will operate in addition to the face-to-face clinics patients already receive.
Work is ongoing to develop virtual clinics to link to patients in their own homes.
Note: the VC service is not used for newly diagnosed patient consultations.
|Videoconsultation clinic at Portree Hospital, Isle of Skye|
ITTS are also working with NHS Orkney to establish new VC clinics at 3 sites across the Orkney Islands:
- Westray - VC link operational with diabetes consultations since April 2013
- Dounby - VC link established, awaiting diabetes patients (currently used for other health services)
- Hoy - VC link established, awaiting diabetes patients (currently used for other health services)
Diabetes consultations are delivered from the main centre of specialist care in Balfour Hospital (Kirkwall).
An established link between the mainland hospital in Aberdeen - where the diabetes consultant is based - and Balfour Hospital (Kirkwall) will further complement the service offering a 3-way link.
ITTS are working to export the service model currently operating in Scotland. A VC link has now been established connecting Ulster Hospital in Belfast to a remote site at Bangor Community Hospital. The first patient VC clinics began in February 2013 with weekly videoconsultations. Since April 2013 clinics are being run fortnightly and the service is also being used by other health disciplines such as speech and language therapy.
The service has proved very popular with patients who have benefited from a significant reduction in travel to and from the main city hospital. ITTS are therefore working to develop service capability to allow for GP surgery links and are also inviestigating the potential for direct links to the patient's home. The short-term aim is to train more diabetes specialist nurses (DSN) to use the VC service and increase the number of videoconsultation clinics.
The existing videoconsultaiton service continues to flourish between the main hospital and district sites, with 400-500 remote sessions per year since 2006.