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Government to push out large-scale telehealth programme


The government has announced plans to bring telehealth technology to three million people within five years, a move with potentially significant impact on community nurses.

Examples of telehealth projects can include patients with long-term conditions wearing monitoring devices that send data to a nurse based elsewhere or a remote consultation between community and specialist nurses.

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson announced the plans to increase the use of the technology as part of the NHS innovation review last week.

The results released so far have show dramatic falls in mortality and emergency admissions for patients with long-term conditions.

The Royal College of Nursing said the development should be welcomed.

RCN long term conditions adviser Amanda Cheesely said: “Telehealth should not be seen as a threat, a replacement for appropriate clinical care or another unnecessary expense. New ways of working with technology can also save money by reducing paperwork, unnecessary meetings and the inappropriate use of scarce health resources.

“We must embrace the widespread adoption of this and ensure that patients and staff are supported to use it to its full potential. The RCN genuinely believes that using this technology can have a hugely beneficial impact on people’s lives, while at the same time, being very cost effective.”

The scheme was trialled in east London, Kent and Cornwall.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Perhaps it should be mentioned that Own Health [an off shoot of NHS Direct] - a long term conditions telephone service, that is nurse led, has been successfully running in Birmingham and Walsall for years. Guess what?? about to shut down in March 2012. Cost cuts. When will our managers/ politicians use joined up thinking!

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  • Telehealth is a fantastic idea to enable patients to stay well and safe at home and release some of the burden off the community nurses, Dr and hospital staff. But if it is felt that Telehealth is the way forward and can have such a huge benefit of paitents then why is it that a Telehealth service already running within the west midlands will be closing the end of March due to funding?

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  • It is quite unsettling to think that if an existing LTC programme is already up & running [& proven presumably] why on earth then would the powers that be; pull the plug on it? I wonder how those patients receiving the service are feeling @ the moment with the Own Health programme ending on these cold, dark & lonely nights? Hope that NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson is aware of the funding issues?

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