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Telehealth could be post-pandemic way ahead for NHS – MSP

By Lorna Thompson

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INNOVATIVE health responses to the coronavirus pandemic could point the way to longer-term changes in the way the NHS is run, says a north MSP.

The public health emergency has led to healthcare bosses quickly adapting services, using technology to assist patients.

In Moray doctors have been using the NHS video call service, Attend Anywhere, to virtually see patients, a service rolled out in response to the pandemic.

Speaking during a health debate at Holyrood on Tuesday, June 2, Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said the pandemic had led to many local services being delivered without medical professionals actually meeting their patients, highlighting the need for GPs and others to use technology to carry out consultations remotely.

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP.
Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP.

Mr Halcro Johnston said: "One legacy of the virus will hopefully be a greater consideration and use of telehealth to address challenges in delivering healthcare in remote and rural areas.

"Emergencies like this often lead to a significant acceleration in the development and adoption of new technologies. But, once the emergency is over, very often those developments are accepted and become a standard way of doing things.

Moray GP Dr Peter Kelly explains on a video how Attend Anywhere consultations work.
Moray GP Dr Peter Kelly explains on a video how Attend Anywhere consultations work.

"We have seen adaptations take place by necessity in ways that have been discussed for years, but never brought into the mainstream.

"It has been inspiring to see how NHS staff have risen to the challenge and taken to new ways of working.

"It is important that, when we emerge from this, we take the time to carefully evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. That way we can make informed decisions about where we should invest extra resources – and the result could be a more responsive and accessible health service for everybody."

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