HEALTH officials and patients in Tees Valley have praised new ways of working after Coronavirus led to an overnight revolution in digital healthcare.
Facing the risk of Covid-19 infection, GP practices were forced to make sweeping changes to traditional face-to-face consultations and doctors and patients have welcomed many of the new ways.
To protect patients and staff, telephone and online video consultations were introduced in all practices to ensure that patients’ healthcare needs continued to be met.
NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) medical director Dr Janet Walker said: “The speed at which the new technology changes have been implemented within GP surgeries has been incredible.
“For patients, being able to make appointments online, not having to take time out of their day to go to the surgery and being able to see a doctor virtually from the comfort of their own home has worked extremely well – and for GPs the experience has also been very positive.
“Of course there are patients who may not have access to technology that allows the use of online services, or video consultations, or for whom telephone consultations are not possible or require additional support because of language or communication difficulties, but looking at the future of GP consultations we need to ensure that we continue to develop digital systems that work for as many people as possible.”
All GP practices across the Tees Valley are set up to support patients requesting their repeat prescriptions online. Patients can register for online services at their practice or by using the NHS App.
Health advice is available by completing an online eConsult form on practice websites enabling patients to submit an enquiry about their health issues at a time convenient to them.
Dr Rishika Sinha, Kingsway Medical Centre, Billingham, added: “We have received really encouraging comments from patients who see the new GP telephone and video consultations as a very positive way to move forward in the future.
“From feedback from our patient participation group we know that the hope is that virtual appointments will continue post-Covid-19.
“This will not only reduce the risk of infection to staff and patients in the GP surgery but will also help release travel time and waiting time for patients.”