In Norway, the project is addressing the need for a decentralised mental health service for both adults and children/adolescents.
The existing VC link between the University of North Norway (UNN) in Tromsø and Narvik (240 km away) is to be extended to 2 further satellite sites in Hamarø and Lodingen to widen the reach of the decentralised on-call cooperation for adult mental health service.
Through ITTS, a new VC link has now been established at the decentralised mental health clinic for children and adolescents (BUP) in Ofoten/Narvik with a focus on patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This clinic connects to the University hospital (UNN) where VC is used routinely for discussion of medication, and evaluation of hospital referrals. There are also links to the municipalities of Lødingen and Tysfjord where the service is used in elective patient consultations.
Since June 2013, after the BUP and Adult psychiatry clinics merged, there has been a shortage of available IP addresses which has temporarily put a stop to the VC service. The BUP leadership is working on getting this resolved with hopes to have the service up and running again in the near future.
In Scotland, ITTS are working to develop the use of mobile VC (laptops) to carry out remote patient psychiatric assessments. It is hoped this approach will enable flexibility for clinicians, reduce unnecessary admissions for patients and facilitate the delivery of local community care. The service will also be used for multi-disciplinary team (MDT) reviews. In these MDT reviews VC technology will link the ward rounds to the community teams which helps in preparation for discharge.
The team are very keen for VC to be used across the service to help deal with the remote geography in South Highland (Argyll and Bute) which has many island communities and limited numbers of ferry connections. These communities are often reliant on helicopters to airlift patients to Inverness which is stressful and extremely costly. It is envisaged that VC will play a large part in the redesigned psychiatry service in this area over the coming year.
The project start was delayed due to a lengthy procurement process to commission the laptops and setbacks in the installation of broadband connections within the junior doctor residencies. A new intake of junior doctors have now been trained in the use of VC for assessments and the service is now live.