• Video link technology could reduce travel time for patients and staff

A successful trial of a virtual outpatient clinic in Morecambe could mean reduced travel time for some patients to see doctors in the future.

The trial was carried out during an outpatient clinic run by Dr Colin Brown, consultant gastroenterologist at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Throughout the clinic, Dr Brown performed the role of ‘remote clinician’ from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. His six patients attended the actual clinic based in Westmorland General Hospital­ – about 20 miles away in Kendal.

The region’s health and care services are trying to find a solution to the challenges they face in regards to the large geographical area they cover – 700 square miles, with many people living in rural areas. This often results in long journeys to access services. It is hoped the technology can be used to provide outpatient consultations where a physical examination is not be needed.

Dr Brown said: “It is important that we look at other ways of delivering care to patients that fits in better with their lifestyles and where they live. Due to the geography of our area, some patients can spend hours traveling to and from their appointments, and where it is safe to do so, we want to try to make the process of coming into hospital for an outpatient’s appointment easier for them.”