The Health Minister has this week announced that video consultation services will be extended to dental practices, opticians and community pharmacies. This follows the successful roll-out of the service in primary care, community and secondary care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Video consultation has rapidly expanded during the last few months and has helped to transform how people access healthcare services during the COVID-19 response. To date over 6,400 GP video consultations have been undertaken and over 8,800 video consultations to support community and secondary care. 97% of patients who have used the service have rated it as excellent, really good or good.
Video consultation has enabled essential services to continue, whilst also protecting patients and NHS employees from increased risk of infection. Evaluation of the service has shown that the video consultation has saved 36,000 miles of travel and 1,200 hours of travel time. It has also reduced Co2 emissions by nine tons.
A pilot will now take place in July to extend the services to dentistry, optometry and community pharmacies who have all experienced an increase in demand for additional services, including people seeking advice for common ailments. The introduction of social distancing has also meant that some services have not taken place and video consultation will help support the reintroduction of these services.
Video consultation will enable community pharmacies to provide advice for common ailments and emergency contraception services. It will allow pharmacies to conduct Discharge Medicines Review and give support for people who want to stop smoking.
In dentistry, video consultations will support pre-visit consultations to get an understanding of the patients’ medical history and allow a clinical assessment.
Optometry will benefit from video consultation by using it for pre-visit check-ups on a patient’s medical history. It will also support triage to examine a person’s eyelids. Video consultation can also be used to allow a specialist ophthalmologist to join the consultation call.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said: “Delivering care closer to home through the use of technology has always been a key part of A Healthier Wales, to deliver healthcare away from hospitals to communities, and where possible in people’s homes.
“The coronavirus pandemic has meant that we have had to rapidly expand and adapt services. Video consultation has allowed us to overcome the challenges that social distancing brings. The delivery of video consultation has been fast tracked and is testament to the work of NHS Wales in delivering this service ahead of time to support patients.
“Thousands of people have already received care via video consultation. I’m pleased to be able to extend this service to dentistry, optometry and community pharmacies which will see even more people benefit.”