NHS Launches 'Virtual Clinics'


July 01, 2020

Attend Anywhere – an online video consultation tool – is being rolled out across University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) as part of its coronavirus (COVID-19) response in partnership with hospitals across Lancashire and South Cumbria.  Attend Anywhere was first trialled with the Trust’s Paediatrics team and received great feedback from staff and patients.

Attend Anywhere allows people to consult their healthcare professionals via video calls from a location of their choice. It can be used for scheduled and unscheduled care but one of its key features is virtual waiting rooms, which is particularly useful for scheduled clinic appointments.  

Clare Peckham, Consultant Paediatrician and Lead for Respiratory Paediatrics, said: “There are so many advantages from all sorts of perspectives. Whilst video communication will never completely replace physical assessment and there will always be the need for face-to-face examination of a patient, during the current situation there are huge advantages, not in the least mitigating the risks and dangers of the unintended consequences of lockdown on our babies, children, young people and their carers.

“In Paediatrics, some children who we plan to see via the video clinic have complex needs and are in the shielding category during the pandemic and need to be seen in this way because coming to hospital at the moment should only happen if it’s absolutely essential. Attend Anywhere allows us to carry out these clinics appropriately, ensuring their safety.”

Clare, along with a paediatric respiratory nurse and a dietitian, carried out a respiratory clinic with Rachel Cleminson, of Lancaster, her husband Anthony and their son Finlay who has Cystic Fibrosis (CF).

Clare added: “It was so useful for us to actually see everyone and we gained an awful lot by being able to see and hear Finlay cough which enabled us to modify his management. It is such a positive psychological support for both the Multi-Disciplinary Team and the family to be able to have visual contact in this way.”

Rachel Cleminson said: “The attend anywhere conference system is a great way to keep in contact and communicate with our CF team. The software is very easy to use and understand. All we had to do was click on the link in our email and it put us in a waiting room and once Clare was ready she opened up the conference call.

“Having this available to us makes it easier to communicate our concerns and any problems we are having, being able to see the team is great because they can also see us and our little boy so if we were to have any issues or worries they could see him and talk us through our problems. We are very grateful to have this available to us during this difficult time while we can't go up to the hospital and look forward to using it again for our next appointment.”

Dr Colin Brown, Chief Clinical Information Officer, UHMBT, said: “It’s important that we provide the safest possible care for our patients during the pandemic. This innovative online conferencing tool allows clinical staff to provide clinics from any setting which is a great benefit to those clinicians who are shielded and working from home during this time.”

The Attend Anywhere software is one of NHS England’s preferred online video consultation tools and the hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria’s Integrated Care System partnership have worked together to deliver more than 1,800 video consultations totalling more than 400 hours. Patients (and additional participants) do not need an account, or to download any special software. They enter the clinic's Waiting Area via a link sent to the patient and they wait there until the authorised clinician is ready to see them. Appointments, requests and results are handled through existing processes and systems and run the same as any other consultation. Prescriptions are dealt with via the approved Remote Prescription process.  

You can find out more information about Attend Anywhere at https://www.uhmb.nhs.uk/visiting-our-hospitals/attend-anywhere