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Virtual consultations given across the Vale this past year

THE number of virtual consultation appointments delivered by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board made up 20 per cent of the total number delivered across Wales in the past year. 

In the last 12 months there were 27,962 virtual appointments given across the Vale – 20 per cent of the total number delivered across Wales (139,650).

With 91% patients saying that they would use the virtual consultation service again and 92% rating virtual consultations as “excellent, very good or good”, it’s clear that video consultations will still be in demand even as COVID-19 restrictions ease in the future.

Reinforcing the Welsh Government’s Help Us, Help You campaign, the figure shows public confidence in platforms including the online symptom checker is growing.

The way you access the NHS might have changed, but it has opened up a number of new opportunities by being able to connect with a healthcare professional including your local GP dentist, pharmacist or optician via video call. This can be done from the comfort of your home using a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Virtual consultations are quick and easy to set-up through your existing smartphone, tablet or PC and there is no need for installations or downloads. The service is safe and secure and will help you see a healthcare professional more conveniently, saving you time and keeping you safe.

Across Wales, this has meant 558,118 patient travel miles avoided, 12,350 hours of travel time saved and 163,977kg co2 saved.

A first-time user of the technology within the health board area said: “I was slightly apprehensive about doing a video call as I had not taken part in one before but it was straight forward and much easier than I thought, plus it was more convenient than attending surgery in person. The nurse was lovely too.”

A mental health patient said of their experience: “[The clinician] has been fantastic at offering support and I am in a much better place than I was five weeks ago. I have really enjoyed not needing to travel anywhere for these sessions; they have still felt personal and connected, despite being through a screen.”

Dr Alka Ahuja, Virtual Consultation Clinical Lead at TEC Cymru, said: “Video consulting has made a huge difference to patients and health care professionals, ensuring that the NHS could continue to deliver safe and timely care during the pandemic. Feedback from patients and clinicians shows it is convenient, saving travel, money and time and video consulting is here to stay and will be one of the ways that people will continue to receive health care not just now but for the future.”

Allan Wardhaugh, Chief Clinical Information Officer at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “Video consultations have had a really significant impact since we introduced them, becoming an integral part of how we interface with our patients within a matter of months.

“They are proving to be a really popular, convenient option for patients to attend their hospital appointments flexibly, and the figures speak for themselves in terms of the significant positive contribution they are making to the environment.

“Video consultations are something we have long been planning to introduce to offer healthcare sustainably, closer to people’s homes. We know that they don’t suit all circumstances, but our clinicians are still exploring how we can get the best out of them, driving forward a valuable service for as many patient groups as possible.

“As we continue to see the number of video consultations grow it’s clear that they have a promising future with the potential to deliver real, wide-ranging benefits for years to come, and as part of implementing our digital strategy I am looking forward to working with colleagues locally and across the NHS in Wales to see where digital technology can take us.”

Get to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker by checking online using NHS 111 Wales or visiting https://cavuhb.nhs.wales/

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