Newham patients can now see their GP from home as practices launch video consultations

Twenty GP practices in Newham have launched video consultations. Picture: Adam Scott / NHS Newham CC

Twenty GP practices in Newham have launched video consultations. Picture: Adam Scott / NHS Newham CCG. - Credit: Archant

Twenty GP practices in Newham have launched video consultations to improve access for their patients.

The Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) received funding from NHS England for the video consultation roll-out so it can improve access to primary care services for residents and share learning across north east London ahead of a wider roll-out across England by 2021.

The use of video technology as an alternative to face-to-face consultations particularly benefits those with mobility issues, while it can also make seeing a doctor less daunting and easier to fit into busy lives, as there is no need to travel to the practice.

Not having to physically attend a doctor's surgery could also help to reduce the spread of infections.

Balaam Street Surgery in Plaistow, which has led the way in introducing video consulting, now provides six to 10 video consultations slots a day and offers patients support if they want help to be able to use the service.

The consultations integrate seamlessly with the practice's face-to-face, online and telephone consultations.

Clinical lead and GP Dr Barry Sullman said: "I can now easily see and treat patients who are house-bound or have trouble walking, as well as healthy people who find it logistically difficult to make it to the surgery, such as having to take a heavy pram down four flights of stairs.

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"I have also been able to see agoraphobic patients, who would not have been able to travel to the surgery.

"Carers who are often rushing between clients also benefit from this technology as it enables them to 'meet' the doctor at a time and place which suits them.

"The technology has been working well and has enabled the quick eyeball assessment as well as a more detailed assessment of visible problems such as skin rashes."

Patients will be able to book the consultations with their GP via the Patient Access app and, eventually, the NHS App.

Newham CCG IT project manager Chris Riley said: "Many people now use video apps like Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp on a daily basis in their personal and work lives.

"It is important that the NHS in Newham is able to keep up with technological advances and offer people access to health care advice using similar technology."