Welsh NHS to roll out video health consultations amidst coronavirus outbreak
The Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething has approved the national roll-out of video health consultations, as part of Welsh Government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The web-based service will allow people to speak to NHS professionals by video without having to visit a GP or healthcare centre. This will help those who are self-isolating due to coronavirus to have face-to-face care and advice from their GP from their own home.
People will need a smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam running Chrome or Safari browsers to use the service. The consultation leaves no digital footprint and all appointments are deleted immediately following the consultation.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We had already invested in a pilot in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area and now we can roll out this technology across Wales to help us as we respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“This technology will help people access healthcare advice from their homes, particularly if they are self-isolating because of the virus, while helping the NHS cope with an increase in demand. I’m pleased we’re at the forefront of using this digital technology throughout Wales.”
Extending the use of this digital technology, which already plays an important role in the NHS in Wales, will help to reduce pressure on frontline NHS services.
The technology is being rolled out as part of the Welsh Government’s £50m Digital Priorities Investment Fund, which supports the delivery of digital services in the Welsh NHS.
A successful pilot has been running in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area since 2018, managed by the Technology Enabled Care programme (TEC Cymru).
Plaid Cymru had accused the Welsh Government of an “alarming lack of clarity” over the next steps in tackling coronavirus.
The party’s leader Adam Price AM has said the intensity of the Welsh Government’s response is “deeply concerning”.
Mr Price called on the Welsh Government to “urgently outline the next steps” and what preparations it was making for local lockdowns in the delay phase of the outbreak.
He said that whilst governments had to be careful not to “panic the public”, they should be spelling out the “trigger point” at which social distancing strategies should be implemented. He added that Coronavirus tests should be available to every member of the public who were “at risk”.
“The purpose of the delay is to try and reduce the spike in the number of people who fall ill,” Adam Price said.
“Alarmingly, we have had no detail from Welsh Ministers about their next steps as the virus takes hold.
“While Governments need to be careful not to panic the public – they should spell out the trigger point at which we move to social distancing strategies.
“As an immediate action, Coronavirus tests should be available to every member of the public who are at risk.”
Yesterday, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, has confirmed that four further patients in Wales have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19).
Three of the new cases had returned to Wales from Northern Italy. Two of those are residents in the Powys local authority area, and the other is resident in the Swansea local authority area.
The other new case, resident of the Caerphilly local authority area, has no history of travel to a country where the virus is circulating, and is not known to have had contact with another confirmed case.
Dr Atherton said: “I can confirm that four additional individuals in Wales have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of positive cases in Wales to 19.
“All of the individuals are being managed in clinically appropriate settings. All appropriate measures to provide care for the individuals and to reduce the risk of transmission to others are being taken.
“We have always been clear that we expected the number of positive cases to increase, which is in line with what has happened in other parts of the world.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to assure the public that Wales and the whole of the UK is prepared for these types of incidents. Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.”
To protect patient confidentiality, no further details regarding the individuals will be released, the WWelsh Government said.