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How you could one day see a James Paget doctor without even leaving the house

PUBLISHED: 16:45 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 26 April 2018

Woman holding hanky during online consultation with doctor. Photo: Getty Images

Woman holding hanky during online consultation with doctor. Photo: Getty Images

KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Concerns have today been raised about getting face-to-face time with senior medics as a Norfolk hospital revealed it could bring in video consultations.

A bicycle was stolen from the James Paget University Hospital. Picture: Sonya DuncanA bicycle was stolen from the James Paget University Hospital. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) at Gorleston could make cyber consultations a reality for certain appointments within three years.

It would enable patients to attend an appointment without leaving their home, while having their heart rates and blood-oxygen levels monitored through their broadband, via a device worn on their body.

The hospital said it was part of a drive to “move forward”, adding that it may not be suitable for everyone, but could “save time for both patients and staff”.

One patients’ group was cautious about the move, revealed in the latest JPUH board agenda.

Chris Andrews, Healthwatch Norfolk engagement officer, said: “I think in terms of easing waiting lists it could be helpful and lots of people in Norfolk do struggle to get to hospitals.

“It would probably also benefit people who perhaps can’t get out of the house or struggle with mobility. However, I know people of older generations can be very particular about wanting to see a doctor face-to-face so it probably wouldn’t help them.”

Mr Andrews also raised concerns about whether the broadband in the hospital’s catchment area would be able to cope with the scheme.

The consultations would enable doctors to review conditions - in real time - without patients having to make a journey to the hospital.

The futuristic proposal is part of the hospital’s latest digital strategy, which also includes suggestions for more mobile communications with patients.

Andrew Palmer, director of transformation at the hospital, said: “Technology is increasingly moving forward and we have to move with it to ensure our services are accessible and available in a way which helps both our patients and our staff.

“Among those things highlighted for development are ‘telehealth services’ which could include remote assessments, virtual consultations and video reviews.

“While these may not be suitable for everyone, they could offer an alternative which may assist with diagnoses and save time for both patients and staff.”

The hospital hopes to begin the scheme by April 2021 - if it is approved by its board tomorrow.

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