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Thousands of Dorset residents forced to stay home by the COVID-19 pandemic are being treated online through a new video consultation system.
Dorset HealthCare is at the forefront of NHS trusts using ‘Attend Anywhere’ to provide care, support and advice to patients who can’t attend a hospital or GP surgery due to lockdown restrictions.
Since the end of March, the Trust has provided more than 6,300 online consultations for services ranging from mental health and learning disabilities to pain management, minor injuries, physiotherapy and sexual health.
Dorset HealthCare is the leading user of Attend Anywhere in the south west, and among the top ten NHS trusts anywhere in England.
While the system had been trialled in Dorset for several months, it has really proved its worth since COVID-19 hit the UK.
“To help limit the spread of the virus, we’ve had to limit access to our hospitals and clinics, as well as reduce home visits and community-based appointments,” explained Dr Steve Tomkins, the Trust’s Medical Director.
“Because of that, Attend Anywhere has been vital in providing people with the support they need online. We were already using the system, but have now rolled it out across more services. Before the Government restrictions came into place, we were taking 30-40 calls day; now it can sometimes reach 200 or more, which shows the level of demand.”
Attend Anyway allows people to see a clinician via a secure, pre-arranged video call. You simply enter an online waiting area at the agreed time, via a dedicated web link on their computer, smartphone or tablet. The clinician is notified when you arrive, and joins the consultation when ready.
You don’t need to set up any kind of user account – you just click the ‘start video” call button on the service’s web page (or via a link in an email or text message you have been sent) and follow the prompts. Any personal information provided on entry is not stored after the consultation has finished.
Sofia Tavares, from Poole, received support from the Trust’s Steps2Wellbeing service through Attend Anywhere.
She said: “I have video calls with family every day, so I found it really easy to use. It was also very convenient – I didn’t have to travel anywhere or be in situations that might make me anxious. I could speak to someone in my own home, in my comfort zone.
“Having an online consultation also meant I could see someone more quickly, which was important to me at the time, and it provided me with lots of practical advice and tools. It was very useful.”
Attend Anywhere can be used anywhere with good internet connection. All you need is a Chrome or Safari web browser and a web camera on your device.
For more information on how to use the system and which services offer it, plus links to the individual ‘waiting rooms’, go to www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/attend-anywhere