Tuesday, 30 August 2011
England's NHS Catches Up With Scotland
Sir Bruce Keogh is the Medical Director of the NHS in England. He has said that IT will "completely change the way we deliver medicine" because he now wants doctors to be able to hold online consultations using Skype. This will revolutionise the NHS reports the Telegraph.
Has Sir Bruce suddenly woken up to the benefits of modern technology?
The NHS in Scotland has been 'revolutionised' for some time now. Healthcare provision in some of Scotland's more remote communities, such as Orkney and Shetland, has included the use of video link consultations with doctors and nurses based in Aberdeen. "Tele-health" provides effective high quality care using a range of digital technologies. Remote clinics and post-surgical follow-up appointments can also be conducted by video-conferencing and currently it is being tested to see if it can be used safely and effectively for patients with motor neuron disease in their own homes. This allows specialist doctors to support the patient whenever their advice is required without either of them having to travel.
For the past couple of years my own GP is happy to speak to me by telephone rather than have me clutter the waiting room - a win-win situation. Also I can book an appointment or a repeat prescription through my GP's website. Feedback is also welcomed.
Using video-link technology can significantly reduce a patient's anxiety and reduce lengthy hospital journeys. At Ninewells hospital in Dundee most people's stress levels must rise long before they reach the consultant's waiting room because parking is a nightmare.
After spending £billions on various IT systems the English NHS has finally decided to catch up with Scotland's innovative system? About time too and such a shame people have been denied this facility for so long.
Of course here in Scotland we are fortunate to have a most capable and forward thinking health secretary in Nicola Sturgeon. Communication technology has been available for years yet was never introduced into the healthcare system until Ms Sturgeon grasped the reins. Now it is accepted practice and can only benefit both patient and doctor.
The chief executive of England's Patients Association isn't too keen on the idea though:
''We would be concerned that it could translate to more frustration for patients. People are already concerned that they are spending less time with their GP and we wouldn't want this to be a way of reducing that further. It should always be the choice of the individual.'
Quite a negative response from someone who should be embracing advances in patient care. Maybe she would change her mind if she took a wee sail to Shetland.