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Inverness
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Video Consultation Scheme for Patients Rolled Out to Community Hubs

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Up to 40,000 consultations taking place every month.

The Near Me video consultation scheme is being extended so patients can use it in community settings such as libraries, community and health and care facilities as well as their own home.

The platform is already being used for around 40,000 consultations a month, helping to ease pressure on the health service, and saving people time and money travelling to appointments.

Near Me consultations include hospital outpatient appointments, GPs, and a wide range of other services including care homes, dietetics and mental health support.

Patients should be offered the option of a Near Me appointment, if appropriate, by the hospital, GP practice or other service, along with details of a website address for its video clinic.

Now patients will be able to visit 55 hubs across Scotland which have set up areas for private video consultations thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

The new hubs provide private confidential space, good connectivity, and help for those with low digital confidence or no access to a suitable device. 

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf praised the innovative use of technology to benefit patients and ease the pressure of the NHS.

Mr Yousaf said:

“Face to face appointments will always be there for people who need them, but Near Me has many benefits to patients, including saving time and money.

“It is valuable in giving them options on accessing healthcare in a way that is easy and comfortable for them.

“It allows multiple family members to join consultations and saves patients having to take time off work or organise childcare.

“The platform has also reduced the need for travel, saving an estimated 57 million miles of travel since January 2020.

“That is so important at this time when we are looking at fuel costs and the impact on the environment.”

Andrina Robb, Near Me Support Manager for NHS Highland, said: 

“The Near Me system is safe and secure, and very straightforward to use.

“There is no app to download or registration required.

“Your details remain private, just like any other appointment.

“All you need is a device for making video calls, like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and an internet connection.

“If you don’t have these things, Near Me rooms are now available in some GP surgeries and other locations such as libraries.

“You can even invite along a friend or family member for support, and they can join the call even if they live far away.”

A feedback survey of nearly 25,000 users reported an average saving of 36 miles per visit – around 1.4 million miles a month.

The survey also revealed 92% said the system was easy to use and 97% would use it again.

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