Scottish Health Board is this week piloting the use of remote appointments for patients at a surgery in Wick
NHS Highland is expanding its use of videoconferencing with a week-long trial of remote appointments at a GP’s surgery in Wick.
The town’s Riverview Practice began a pilot programme of the GP Near Me service on Monday. The trial will see one doctor and one nurse offer remote consultations for appointments where hands-on care is not necessary. The appointments are available to any patients with an internet connection and the ability to make video calls via a smartphone, tablet, or PC.
The launch of GP Near Me follows the rollout of the NHS Near Me service, which allows patients to attend outpatient appointments at their local hospital and then consult via video with doctors at other NHS Highland locations. In some cases, these consultations can also be conducted from a patient’s home.
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The virtual GP appointments will benefit patients with mobility or transport issues, NHS Highland said, and could save people having to miss work or travel in bad weather conditions.
Clare Morrison, NHS Near Me lead at NHS Highland, said: “It isn’t going to be for everyone, but this is about giving patients another option to make care more accessible.
“One patient told us that she always gets breathless on the walk into the consulting room, so being able to attend an appointment by video from home meant she was able to focus on the whole consultation, rather than miss the first few minutes while she caught her breath.”
Joanna Groves, business manager at Riverview Practice, encouraged people to try the video appointments, as the surgery wants to “work out the best way to offer this service to patients” in the future.
One of 14 regional health boards that comprise NHS Scotland, NHS Highland claims to be “largest and most sparsely populated” NHS organisations in the UK. It serves a populace of 320,000 people across an area of 32,500 sq km.
About 7,000 of those patients live in Wick (pictured above), a small town in the far north-east of Scotland, within 20 miles of the top of the UK mainland.