Uptake of Medical Consultations By Video in Scilly Remains Low

St Mary's Hospital is run by Peninsula Community Health

St Mary’s Hospital

Less than 1 in 50 hospital consultations for islands’ patients is being conducted by videoconference or telephone, with the majority of residents still having to travel to the mainland.

Islander Andy Chesterman raised the issue at the recent Transport User Forum. He asked why the recently installed video facilities at the Health Centre weren’t being used.

Officer for Health and Wellbeing, Aisling Hick, told attendees that the Council had invested in the equipment and some teleconsultations had taken place.

But not every doctor at Treliske had signed up yet and the Council was working to improve that.

Aisling confirmed after the meeting that between April 2013 and January 2014, 38 out of 2138 RCHT appointments were conducted by teleconsultation or by phone.

She said the Council is also looking to increase the use of the new X-ray system installed at St Mary’s Hospital and have bought ‘point of care’ testing equipment to avoid having to send samples to the mainland.

But Aisling said the transport issues still remain relevant because some patients will always need to travel for a face-to-face meeting with their consultant.

Aisling told Radio Scilly that the partnership responsible for health on the islands are keen to minimise medical travel and bring services closer to people, because it creates better outcomes.

And she said in many rural areas internationally, technology has proved successful in helping people to access health services across large distances.

The Council is also looking to pilot a project with BT, using new telehealth and telecare devices to promote independent living and overcome social isolation.

GPs at Scilly’s Health Centre introduced the option of appointments by Skype to residents last year.

We asked representatives from NHS Kernow what they were doing to encourage consultants at Treliske to take up the technology but they haven’t got back to us with a response yet.

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