Commissioning Board Hears Frustration Over New Health Technology

St Mary's Health Centre

St Mary’s Health Centre

The Board of the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group have heard about the frustrations health professionals in Scilly have experienced trying to bring in new technology.

The islanders were invited to present to the group, which coordinates NHS medical services in the region. They were meeting in Scilly for the first time on Tuesday.

Scilly’s Lead GP John Garman told them he’s keen to make more use of teleconferencing equipment, so people can talk to mainland consultants without having to travel, but he’d run into delays with the IT systems used in the NHS.

And the Council’s Senior Manager For Community Services, Aisling Hick, said the authority had paid for new video equipment at the hospital, but out of 2,138 medical appointments last year, only 38 had been conducted over the internet.

Aisling says it’s been difficult to get mainland hospitals to use the technology to treat island patients. That’s ‘daft’ she said, when medical trips can cost at least £100 return for the flight.

Dr Garman also said there was work to do on the islands to understand how the various health providers, such as the hospital, ambulance service and GPs, could work together more closely.

He said the services here had “grown organically” and hadn’t been properly commissioned.

That was partly out of necessity, said John, because if a sick patient turns up at the door of the hospital, you have to treat them.

But it also means there isn’t a very robust governance structure in place and they might not be not be getting best use out of their limited resources.

John says St Mary’s Hospital operates very differently from community hospitals on the mainland, with most people staying for very short periods. And he felt there could be more opportunity for people to be treated at home.

In a public question and answer session, islander Alan Davis asked why no one on the islands was being trained to operate the new x-ray system.

Dr Garman said there’s a “huge amount of work” going on to resolve that, with a range of options being discussed. Those include having the islands’ doctors trained take the x-rays through to a full-time radiographer.

He’s been talking to Treliske Hospital about getting someone trained up there.