NEIL HAMILTON, MS for Mid & West Wales, and Leader of UKIP Wales has welcomed news that digital NHS appointments are here to stay.
Mr Hamilton, a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee, was commenting after Health Minister, Vaughan Gethin announced the continuation of non- contact consultations.
He said: “I have long been an advocate of digital appointments for GP surgeries across Wales and so welcome this new announcement.
“It is vital that patients can continue to access key services during the Covid-19 crisis and I am delighted to see the digital access is here to stay.
“The video consultations have allowed people to keep key appointments, whilst maintaining social distance which is, and will continue to be, so important.
“It has also helped to reduce the spread of Covid-19 infection, with fewer people attending hospitals or clinics, thus reducing the risk of exposure to both patients and clinicians.
“It will also allow patients in self-isolation to maintain contact with medical professionals.”
Earlier this year the Welsh Government fast tracked new digital technology to support non-contact consultations in NHS Wales in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the last few months the use of technology has been accelerated across Wales, allowing people to continue to access healthcare advice and services from their homes. This includes a national roll-out of video consultations with GP’s, Secondary and Community Care. The new systems are supporting key services including GPs, Community Nurses, Community Mental Health Teams, Health Visitors, Community Midwives, Outpatients and Diabetes clinics to maintain a visual link with their patients. Virtual outpatient activity has doubled during the pandemic. There are now over a 1,000 remote consultations a week across the NHS using the new NHS Wales Video Consultation Service, and over eight thousand consultations since it was launched. Feedback from patients who have received virtual care has been very supportive of the system, with 97% of patient’s rating this new way or working as excellent, really good or good. Clinicians using the service agree, with 85% (TEC Cymru) giving an excellent, really good or good rating.