Video consultations to be rolled out to community hubs across Scotland

A pioneering video consultation programme that is helping to ease pressure on the health service is to be rolled out to community settings such as libraries.

Near Me is already being used for about 40,000 consultations in Scotland every month and is helping to ease pressure on the health service while saving patients time and money traveling to appointments.

Patients will now be able to visit 55 hubs across Scotland which have set up areas for private video consultations for appointments with GPs, hospital outpatients, dietetics, mental health or other services.

The new hubs will provide private, confidential space and help for those with low digital confidence.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has praised the new initiative.

He said: “Face-to-face appointments will always be there for people who need them, but Near Me has many benefits to patients, including saving time and money.

“It is valuable in giving them options on accessing healthcare in a way that is easy and comfortable for them.

“It allows multiple family members to join consultations and saves patients having to take time off work or organise childcare.

“The platform has also reduced the need for travel, saving an estimated 57 million miles of travel since January 2020. That is so important at this time when we are looking at fuel costs and the impact on the environment.”

Andrina Robb, Near Me Support Manager for NHS Highland, said: “The Near Me system is safe and secure, and very straightforward to use. There is no app to download or registration required. Your details remain private, just like any other appointment.

“All you need is a device for making video calls, like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and an internet connection.

“If you don’t have these things, Near Me rooms are now available in some GP surgeries and other locations such as libraries. You can even invite along a friend or family member for support, and they can join the call even if they live far away.”

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