A specialist centre has opened in north east Kent where nurses are using telemedicine to help support patients with the most complex and serious wounds in a community setting.
Community nurses in Herne Bay, Whitstable, Faversham and Canterbury can use handheld tablet devices to take a picture of a wound, track pain levels, size and depth, and send the information back to the centre.
“It has been great to be part of something new and different”
The specialist hub, which is part of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, will also be used to train staff in wound care.
The centre opened three weeks ago at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay. It is being run by lead nurse Tina Burton and staff nurse Chris Sharp.
Ms Burton said: “It has been great to be part of something new and different. Treating wounds requires complex, specialist care. This new system means our teams out in the community can get the advice of expert tissue viability nurses in Herne Bay – so our patients improve faster.
“It will also help us track how well the wound is healing and improve the quality of care we give to our patients, achieving faster healing rates,” she said.
“Places like this have the potential to be centres of excellence”
A local charity donation of £16,000 from the Herne Bay League of Friends has also helped the centre to buy a range of specialist equipment to support patients.
Mr Sharp said: “We have all the latest equipment in one place and can spend more time with each patient, including people with more complicated conditions who might otherwise have had to go into hospital.”
The wound centre is the second that the trust has opened, with the first launched in Sittingbourne in February.
The Herne Bay centre is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and there are plans to expand into a second room at the hospital so more patients can be seen.
It is also being supported by Age UK and Herne Bay Community Transport, which are transporting patients to the hospital.
Roger Gale, Conservative MP for Thanet North, visited the centre and described himself as “a big fan of telemedicine”.
“Places like this have the potential to be centres of excellence where wounds can be beamed to the best experts in the world,” he said.
“If we can reduce the time people have to spend in hospital, it will save money, but actually it’s the dramatic effect on people’s lives and wellbeing that is most important,” he added.