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More choice for patients as primary care services adapt to pandemic Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board

Use of innovative, new video technology has been helping elderly residents in the South Wales valleys to become more involved in decisions regarding their own care.

Attend Anywhere is an online system, being used daily across Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, to enable hospital and GP patients to have a consultation with their doctor via electronic tablet or phone, allowing them to access the care they need from the comfort of their own home.

While this technology is used daily by GP surgeries and patients, a pilot project has also been underway to use the technology in care homes between elderly residents and their doctor.

As part of the pilot, community nurses are facilitating consultations with elderly care home residents while conducting their routine visits to homes across the region.

Clare Flesher, a Community Advanced Nurse Practitioner supporting four GP surgeries across the North Cynon area explains:

“Previously, if we’d been with a patient and needed a GP’s opinion, we would have had to call the surgery and wait for a doctor to become available. The doctor would then have to make a visit to the patient and we would revisit the patient later in the day, to replace bandaging, for example.

“The beauty of Attend Anywhere is that it allows me to work closely with the GP and make important decisions about a patient’s care without the need for face-to-face consultation. It’s like having a second pair of eyes. The GP can see what I see and advise on the best course of action remotely, keeping everyone safe.”

The application of this technology is just one of the new ways primary care services have adapted over the past year across Cwm Taf Morgannwg to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and to keep patients as safe as possible.
Dr Owen Thomas, GP at the Health Centre in Aberdare said new technologies are allowing patients to access primary care services in more efficient ways:
“Finding ways like this to improve communication with our more vulnerable patients at this difficult time and extending the reach of our medical expertise into the community has been really exciting. We need to look for the positives during these challenging times and I honestly believe that this service has the potential to transform outpatient services across our Health Board.

“One of the biggest pressures on the NHS, aside from the obvious challenges that have been presented by the Covid pandemic, is that patients often book a GP appointment when their condition doesn’t necessarily require a doctor’s involvement at all. The introduction of services like Attend Anywhere will cut down on the number of unnecessary appointments and help us ensure that patients can continue to be seen in the right way.”

To help ease the pressures on GP surgeries and remind patients of the many different ways they can access advice and support, a campaign will launch this month highlighting primary care services and how patients can access healthcare during the pandemic.The campaign focuses on the many different primary care professionals available to patients close to their home.

While for a lot of patients the GP might be their first port of call when they pick up an illness or injury, the message from the Health Board is that it may not always be the most appropriate service to use.

Julie Denley, Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health for Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board, added:

“Primary Care is constantly evolving and updating and the pandemic has accelerated that.

“Patients have a choice of health care professionals they can see locally and this hasn’t changed. We’re still open and here to help patients, but we want to remind patients to access the right services in the right way and make use of the innovative new technologies that are helping to keep us all safer during the pandemic.”

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