Choice for Patients in Primary Care

Marc Beswick is the National Lead for the Near Me video appointments service in Scotland. In his latest blog he makes the case that what matters most to patients is choice.

Primary care services across Scotland have had to respond almost overnight to the impacts of Covid-19. They have done a great job including offering patients the choice of telephone, video, and face-to-face appointments with 2,000 Near Me appointments being used every week.

And use of Near Me is something that Tayside GP Dr Scott Jamieson, Executive Officer (quality improvement) with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland, warmly endorsed.  On the publication of the Evaluation from experts from Oxford University in March 2021,  Dr Jamieson commented “RCGP Scotland supports Near Me as an option offered to patients, alongside face-to-face and telephone consultation.”

But he also highlighted: “We should be mindful that not all patients have access to technology or are confident in using it and we should continue to promote and provide face-to-face consultations when required.”

These balanced views are not isolated.  GP’s, Practice Managers, and others have been sharing their experiences of using Near Me during the pandemic in a series of Webinars available on the Near Me You Tube Channel.

These events were positive and shared real insights of having to overcome some of the challenges in adopting this new way of working, but they also highlighted benefits. As we start to come out of the restrictions and move into the recovery phase, such learning is important to help shape what the future might look like. 

In the latest Primary Care Near Me Webinar series @fiona_mcgirr Practice Manager in Dollar Health Centre in Forth Valley also reflected on how Near Me had been used over the past year. She highlighted how Administrative and Reception colleagues were often the “lynchpins” in supporting patients to access their appointment to best suit their personal circumstances.  Fiona believes that empowering the whole team to support choice will be key to ongoing and successful use in their Practice. The webinar can be viewed here Near Me to Support Care Navigation Webinar 5th May 2021

These sentiments very much chime with public feedback where video appointments have brought many benefits. Patients, carers, families, and the wider public have shown support for Near Me and wish it to be an option going forward.  In the spirit of right person, right place, right time through good Care Navigation Near Me can offer a great option.

Are you ready for when the public ask, “Can I have a video appointment please?”

Prior to his current role Marc Beswick was the Children’s Occupational Therapist in Shetland for 17 years. For more information on Near Me and to share your thoughts and experience you can contact him at marc.beswick@nhs.scot

You can also follow Marc and the Near Me team on Twitter @MarcBeswickAHP and @NHSNearMe

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