Patients offered virtual GP appointments in Wales

Virtual GP appointments are being rolled out across Wales while the country fights the coronavirus pandemic.

All GP practices in Wales can now access a new system, which allows people to have online appointments with their doctor and other healthcare professionals.

The NHS Wales Video Consulting Service was due to launch later this year but has been brought forward because of Covid-19.

As well as helping people keep to the stay-at-home rules, the new system will allow doctors and nurses who are self-isolating, but willing and able to work, to continue to serve their communities.

Vaughan Gething, minister for health and social services, said: “Innovations such as this enables government to help frontline staff keep people safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

“It also means another layer of protection for NHS staff.

“We are changing the way the NHS operates.

“By offering telephone and video appointments, we can reduce pressure on frontline staff and better support people with information and advice without unnecessary contact.

“We are now looking at the next phase of this service, which will include rolling this out into places like hospitals.”

Video appointments will be offered if doctors want more information than a telephone call can provide.

In these cases, surgeries can provide simple instructions about how people can access the free and easy-to-use technology that will work with their smartphone, tablet or PC.

A pilot programme in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area saw 290 GPs across 73 practices receive video conference training.

More than 430 video consultations have taken place since its launch on March 16.

Mike Ogonovsky, associate director of informatics at the health board, said: “This programme is a demonstration of how we are rolling out tools to support clinicians who have demanded an alternative way to deliver care to their patients.

“It’s already been deeply rewarding to get such positive feedback from clinicians and patients.”

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