THOUSANDS of patients have been able to continue to see their doctor in Oxford during lockdown without having to attend hospital, thanks to the growing use of video consultations.

Before the pandemic, very few departments at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the John Radcliffe, were using technology to conduct remote consultations with patients.

But since its launch in the middle of March, 4,267 of them have been carried out using the Attend Anywhere (AA) platform.

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In the week of May 18, there were 882 video appointments, allowing clinical teams – from cancer and paediatrics to haemophilia and antenatal care – to continue seeing patients.

David Walliker, OUH’s Chief Digital and Partnerships Officer, said: “These are unprecedented times and it has been very challenging for both clinical and support staff, and of course for our patients.

“But these challenges have presented us with an opportunity to transform and make it more receptive to patients’ needs."

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He added: "I’ve been delighted that close working between our clinical divisions and digital teams, and NHS England and NHS Improvement has enabled us to deploy this functionality quickly, and delighted with the way our staff have embraced more agile ways of working.”

As OUH is a major regional and national centre for many specialties, patients often come not just from Oxfordshire and the wider Thames Valley, but also from other parts of the country.

The most frequent users of AA during the Covid-19 emergency have been children’s services.

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Dr Konrad Jacobs, Consultant Clinical Paediatric Psychologist, said engagement and communicating clearly was essential when dealing with young patients and their families.

He explained: “We know that if we don’t engage with children and teenagers, we’re not going to get anywhere. Using video is immediate, and easier than engaging with them over the phone.

"Video is not ideal, but it is the next best thing to face-to-face consultations.”

Mr Walliker said the current restrictions had forced the trust to think about the future, adding: "We have proved over the past few weeks that we can work in an agile and innovative way – albeit in circumstances none of us would have wanted."