As a direct response to COVID-19, to keep both staff and patients safe and to reduce the spread of the infection, Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership and NHS England recognised that virtual consultation platforms should be made available to NHS trusts. Surrey Heartlands had previously set a target of reducing face to face appointments by 70% as part of their New Care Models (NCM) workstream and it was agreed that the virtual consultations project had a natural home in the NCM team.
Amongst other challenges, an overarching concern was that the two community trusts in Surrey were not eligible for the central funding to access virtual consultations because of their social enterprise status – unlike their peers in GP practices, acute or mental health organisations. This would have impacted on the ability of the system to remain agile during COVID-19 and to continue to offer services.
Surrey Heartlands had already implemented a pilot of a virtual consultation platform called ‘Attend Anywhere’ in Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS FT, ProCare Health GP federation in Guildford and Waverley CCG, and at East Surrey Hospital. As these organisations were eligible for virtual consultations under the central licences held by NHS England, they agreed it would be beneficial to amend the user permissions for the community trusts to be able to use the platform instead.
Key activity included:
• Maturity model development to support Surrey Heartlands to ensure the long term sustainability of virtual consultations as a viable delivery method for safe and effective patient care
• Collaborative forums between the community trusts and mental health provider to facilitate learning and peer to peer support with regards to implementation, deep dives into reporting from services to identify key supporters in the team to encourage greater buy-in from other members of staff, assistance with implementation project plans, sharing of resources, troubleshooting clarity, license extension
• Facilitation between NHS England and the trusts to share national learning, support internal reporting, and build relationships.
For further information
Athina Lockyer / Programme Manager – Technology Navigation, KSS AHSN / Athina.Lockyer@nhs.net
Rheanna Mitchell / Head of Planned Care Commissioning Guildford and Waverley ICP, NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group /
07824 528220 / Rheanna.Mitchell@nhs.net