Video consulting service arrives in Mallaig

Reductions in travel time for patients as NHS Highland’s Near Me service expands

Monday 8th July 2019

The expansion of video consulting services in the Highlands is continuing with the latest clinic installed in the Mackintosh Centre, Mallaig.

People in the area can now attend out-patient appointments using the NHS Near Me online video platform, eliminating the need to travel to see a consultant.

The NHS Highland Near Me clinic – similar to one already available at the Small Isles medical practice on Eigg – involves an unstaffed, easy-to-use device that is one of 15 the board has installed across Highland in the past six months. 

Since a pilot of the service was rolled out at Caithness General Hospital last year, some 24 departments in NHS Highland now offer appointments via NHS Near Me, with the Highland haematology service currently proving to be the number one provider of consultations in Scotland.

Ultimately, the board plans that most Highland patients will be able to use NHS Near Me from their homes using video calling devices such as a smartphone, tablet or computer.

While getting in touch from the comfort of their own home is often patients’ preferred option, the unstaffed Mallaig/Eigg units are part of a back-up system in case people can’t connect from their homes – ensuring an equitable service for all.

Clare Morrison, NHS Highland’s NHS Near Me lead, said: “The opening of the NHS Near Me room in Mallaig marks the near completion of the installation phase of NHS Near Me Clinic units across Highland.

“Our experience of using NHS Near Me in Caithness, and an earlier project using video consulting technology at home, showed that not everyone has a smartphone, computer or good internet connection. That’s why we have installed these unstaffed rooms: so everyone can access the NHS Near Me service.”

The NHS Near Me clinic room network has both staffed and unstaffed rooms. At the staffed clinics, patients can receive clinical support, such as a blood test, all within a call. These staffed clinics are available in Wick, Portree, Fort William and Golspie.

Unstaffed rooms are now in place in 12 locations and more units are opening soon in Kingussie, Grantown on Spey and Strontian. Plans are also in place for further unstaffed rooms in Ullapool, Invergordon, Nairn and Dingwall.