A new survey suggests that both patients and clinicians in Scotland have strongly welcomed the expansion of virtual consultation services for medical and mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Near Me video system was originally designed in 2018 to serve rural and island communities in Scotland, where distances were a challenge. From March 2020, the video system was scaled up to ensure that patients were getting appropriate care and the health care staff were being protected during the pandemic. Video consultations under the Near Me video system rose from 336 in the week before the expansion to nearly 17,000 during the last week of June.
A national public engagement survey was conducted during June-August 2020 to understand the views of the general public and health professionals regarding the Near Me programme. Of the 5400 responses received, 87 per cent of respondents from the general public were in favour of video consultations and 94 per cent of clinicians supported a digital first approach.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "I am pleased patients and clinicians recognise the benefits of the Near Me service which offers people more choice over how they access health and care services and more flexibility in their day to day lives. As we look ahead to winter, we will better support people to ensure they have the information they need to get the right care, closer to home."