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To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to facilitate online consultations for outpatients to reduce non-essential contact with clinicians.
The NHS Long Term Plan outlines NHS England and NHS Improvement’s commitment to redesigning outpatient appointments, offering patients the choice of virtual outpatient appointments where appropriate. A pilot programme in April 2019 implemented video consultation in outpatient services at 40 providers. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, NHS England and NHS Improvement are accelerating this work, rapidly scaling up video consultation capability within National Health Service trusts and foundation trusts to reduce the need for physical attendances.
The decision to conduct a consultation via video will be clinically led. NHS England and NHS Improvement are making a web-based video consultation platform available. It works on multiple devices, does not rely on software downloads and access will be free of charge to all NHS trusts and foundation trusts. NHS England and NHS Improvement will provide training and support materials to facilitate rapid deployment of video consulting technology; a nationally assured Data Protection Impact Assessment; a telephone support desk for clinicians and patients; and up to £20,000 per NHS provider for the purchasing of hardware to support the delivery of video consultations.