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Digital Health Centre Launches

A new pilot launched on Monday, 6 March aimed at reducing the number of unnecessary attendances at Tameside Hospital’s A&E department through the use of Skype. In a period where A&Es across the country have come under increased pressure, this new initiative, which focusses on local care and residential homes, is seen as a possible solution to the problem.

The pilot will initially involve four local care and residential homes. When patients within the homes become ill or unwell, staff will have the option to Skype a dedicated registered nurse at the Trust who will be on hand to give expert advice and guidance throughout a video conversation. This means that patients who would normally have been directed to A&E can remain in a comfortable place and be given tailored advice on what treatment or course of action to take.

It is expected that whilst some patients will still require a visit to A&E, the majority of residents in local homes will benefit from the service and will not need a hospital visit. 

Peter Grace, a registered nurse at Tameside and Glossop NHS Foundation Trust will be the ‘in-house’ expert receiving calls for a pilot period of four weeks. Peter said: “The idea behind this service is two-fold. Primarily we don’t want residents in care homes coming to A&E if they don’t really need to. This service means that they don’t need to wait to be seen by a nurse or doctor in the A&E department to get the advice they need – it’s all done remotely via Skype. Secondly, it frees up the time in the A&E department to see those patients most in need of emergency care.“

Peter added: “We’ve trained up residential and care home staff to undertake some basic observations on patients whilst we Skype. This means things like blood pressure readings and the monitoring of heart rate etc.”

The pilot will be running for four weeks initially, and, if successful, will result in the appointment of up to six experts on hand to take calls from care and residential homes across Tameside and Glossop.