Doctor uses Skype to diagnose critical heart problem from living room

By Betsy Everett

A patient was transferred to hospital in the middle of the night for emergency heart surgery after being diagnosed on Skype by a surgeon sitting in his living room.

Janet Probert, chief officer of the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group, said the patient had since asked to attend public meetings in order to show how successful the consultation had been.

“All consultants at the Friarage now have a secure kind of Skype. When they do their on-call duty, if they’re needed in the night they can do the consultation without leaving home,” Ms Probert told a meeting in Askrigg.

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It was one of the innovative ways being sought to improve care and make it more accessible as the CCG felt “very strongly” about keeping services at the Friarage whenever it was safe to do so.

A new model of emergency care “front of house” was also being modelled at the hospital.

“Our GP out of hours service is provided at the Friarage, we have paramedics on the site and the front of house and A&E department is also there. We are trying to get the three teams working together so that a GP can see patients who turn up at A&E, and A&E can see patients who ring for a GP out of hours,” said Ms Probert.

New lung surgery services were now offered there, saving patients having to travel to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, and the MRI scanner, for which money had been raised locally, was proving very popular.

Meanwhile work had started in September on building the Ogden Macmillan Centre which would enable patients to have have their cancer drug treatments there, again saving visits to the James Cook which would continue to provide radiotherapy treatment.

The Friarage, along with other hospitals, was facing ”real challenges” in emergency medicine, critical care and anaesthetics due to a national shortage of doctors and consultants, and increased demand from an ageing population.

Ms Probert urged people to attend a series of engagement meetings throughout the region to hear what problems they were facing and twhat might be possible to address them.

“South Tees [Hospital NHS Trust] will then come to me to say these are the problems and these are what we think the solutions should be and at that point we will decide whether we can build a case to change the services and then formally consult the local population.

“There are some difficult choices and what we have to try to get the best balance we can. We don’t always get that right and we are constantly reviewing what we do. Our local GPs give us lots of feedback about what’s working well and what isn’t working well so we are not driven by people who don’t understand the local area,” she said.


1 Comment

  1. There is an assumption that everyone has access to a computer and can use it – not always the case!

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