Virtual appointment support for people in Northumberland and North Tyneside
Patients across Northumberland and North Tyneside are being encouraged to make the most of digital hubs, set up to help them access online healthcare.
Community hubs are being set up across the county by the Public Health Team at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council to offer confidential spaces for individuals to access virtual appointments who may not have the technology or don’t feel confident in doing it themselves at home.
Since the start of 2021, the Ashington hub has supported 70 outpatient appointments online and the trust is putting arrangements in place to support people from other areas too, including Wooler/Glendale, Belford, Blyth, Longbenton, Meadow Well and Wallsend.
Already, 35% of all appointments per month at the trust are via telephone or online, saving unnecessary hospital visits, travel and parking costs and the need for people to make work or childcare arrangements.
There are also huge environmental benefits. Over the past year, patients at the trust travelled over two point six million fewer miles than the year before.
Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing midwifery and allied health professionals and executive director of surgery and community at the trust said: “I’m so pleased we are able to offer this support closer to home for our patients.
“Since the start of the pandemic we have seen a huge shift to online appointments which can be hugely beneficially for both our local residents and our staff. Less footfall in our hospitals also means less opportunities for infections to spread – which will help keep our patients and staff safe.
“But we know not everyone is able to readily access the internet and there are lots of people who struggle to get online. This can be for a number of reasons such as living in an area with poor quality broadband or personal situations which make it difficult.”
According to The Good Things Foundation, nine million people in the UK are unable use the internet independently and seven million people do not have the internet at home. These hubs aim to tackle these inequalities in digital literacy, digital poverty and digital connectivity to improve health outcomes for local populations.
Marion continued, “We are now operating at a level where the most appropriate type of appointment can be offered to a patient, and they can be safely seen in the outpatient department when necessary. We want to make sure everyone has the ability and the skills to access their healthcare in a way which works for them.”
- Wooler/Glendale area, Cheviot Centre, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm, 01668 282406.
- Ashington, Being Woman at YMCA Northumberland, Tuesday – Thursday, 0778647233. or 0800 9991876. Please note: this service is not just available for women.
- North Northumberland, Belford, Bell View, 01668 219220.
- Longbenton, Oxford Centre, 0191 643 2750.
- Wallsend, LD: North East, 0191 262 2261 Please note: this centre is for people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities only.
- Meadow Well Connected, call 0191 341 0033 between 9am – 3pm to arrange an appointment.
- Blyth Horizons North East, Community Lounge, 01670 359465 (option 4) 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.
Kimberley Waugh, media assistant, email@example.com, 07967812355.