A trial into the use of videoconferencing for medical consultations between the UK’s Scilly Isles and the mainland has been described as “frustrating” by the Council committee that oversees health provision on the islands.
Last November, trials began using digital technology to avoid patients having to travel to Treliske Hospital on the mainland for appointments. The equipment was purchased by the Council and installed in St Mary’s hospital on the island.
But almost six months later, Strategic Development Officer Aisling Hick told representatives from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust that she’s been struggling to get any consultants to actually use it.
Aisling says the technology is better for the patient and saves money, but it was frustrating trying to get doctors on board. She said she wasn’t sure whether any of the proposed clinics were actually happening.
That feeling was echoed by Director of Community Services, Penny Penn-Howard, who felt that going all that way for five minutes with the consultant, when you could do it through video conferencing, didn’t make sense. “We need to try and push harder,” she said.
Cllr Richard McCarthy said it was frustrating that the technology still isn’t up and running and would have been “absolutely ideal” with Land’s End Airport out of action for several weeks this winter.
The discussion was particularly ironic as RCHT had just presented their priorities for the coming year, including increased use of innovative technologies and the ‘Digital First’ initiative to reduce face-to-face contact between doctors and patients.
A spokesperson for RCHT said they are keen to reduce the inconvenience of travel to mainland hospitals for residents of the Isles of Scilly.
They added, “We will work together with the Council and our newly appointed Governors to identify ways of improving services for patients including the increased use of video-conferencing and other technologies wherever possible.”