Friday, 23 October 2020
In June 2020, South London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust was the second biggest user of video consultations in the country of all mental health trusts, undertaking just over 9,000 sessions with patients using virtual platforms.
The Trust is proud to be able to offer many patients the choice of a virtual or face-to-face appointment – and always offer to see a patient in person where clinically required (using PPE to protect patients, families and staff). Ensuring high quality patient care, a good patient experience and patient choice, while keeping our patients safe, are the Trust’s top priorities.
Video consultations can help to keep patients safe, reducing the need to travel. Appointments are held using virtual platforms such Teams and Attend Anywhere. Before lockdown, the use of Attend Anywhere had been limited to a pilot of just five clinical teams, a usage which was rapidly expanded at the start of the pandemic.
Trust Chief Clinical Information Officer and Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Stuart Adams said:
“I am extremely proud of how fast our Trust responded to the needs of our service users at the start of the pandemic. We knew it was vital to continue to see and treat our patients, especially considering the potential toll of lockdown on the mental health of our community. However, it is also imperative that we protect both our patients and staff from any infection risk.
“Many of our patients could be seen via virtual consultations, and our clinicians rapidly adapted to this, undertaking training where required, to make sure our patients got the care they needed despite lockdown conditions.”
The requirements of lockdown have also accelerated the rapid Trust-wide deployment of Microsoft Teams for larger group therapy sessions and administrative meetings.
These platforms allow for effective communication while maintaining social distancing, and have allowed high quality and safe patient care to continue throughout lockdown and beyond, along with supporting services.
Senior Responsible Officer for the Unified Communications programme, which oversaw the deployment of these platforms, Ranjeet Kaile, Trust Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, said:
“Our staff truly showed their agility and dedication to making sure we continued to deliver the highest quality patient care, with an extremely rapid transformation of the way we communicate with patients, colleagues and our communities.
“This was particularly impressive considering the challenging circumstances at the start of the pandemic in which these huge changes were made. This transformation was made possible through the expertise and hard work of our specialist staff who ensured the robust and effective set up and maintenance of these platforms.”