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Video consultations: NHS England’s key points on setting up systems – 27 March



Online consultations and video consultations in general practice – key points for commissioners and practices on procurement of solutions

A letter from NHS England, sent on 27 March, said – 

Online consultation and digital triage

• All general practices need to be able to triage all patient contacts, supported by an online consultation/digital triage system. A range of systems are available – some support patients to send information to the practice online so that practice staff can triage the request, while others provide automated triage and send the outcome of this to the practice.

• Many practices are using these systems already and should now use them to handle all patient contacts, with non-digital users supported to go through the same system by practice staff. A blueprint guide has been developed to support practices in moving to a total triage way of working.

• For commissioners that do not have a contract for an online consultation system, a bundled national procurement has been taken through the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Framework to provide an approved supplier list for online consultation products that commissioners can call off. This will be available from 24 March. It will be centrally funded.

• As of 19 March, NHS Digital has assured all video consultation products and some online consultation products on the Digital Care Services Framework (GPIT Futures) for the solutions submitted for compliance assurance. The full list of products can be found here.

What to do – commissioners:

• Find out if your practices have an online consultation solution that they can use to triage patient contacts. If they do, encourage them to use it to manage all incoming patient contacts.

• If practices do not have an online consultation solution and you do not have an existing contract to provide them with one, contact your NHS England and NHS Improvement regional digital team so that a product can be provided to you through the DPS bundled procurement. You can also contact the DPS team at commercial.procurementhub@nhs.net 23

What to do – practices:

• If you have an online consultation tool available that you can use to triage all patient contacts, please use it to manage all incoming patient contacts.

• If you do not have an online solution, contact your commissioner so that one can be provided to you. You can also contact the DPS team at commercial.procurementhub@nhs.net

Video consultation

• All general practices need to be able to carry out video consultations between patients and clinicians.

• Advice from NHSX information governance team is that it is fine to use video conferencing tools such as Skype, WhatsApp and Facetime, as well as commercial products designed specifically for this purpose, particularly as a short-term measure.

•As of 19 March, NHS Digital has assured all video consultation products and some online consultation products on the Digital Care Services Framework (GPIT Futures) for the solutions submitted for compliance assurance.The full list of products can be found here.

• Those commissioners/practices that are in contract for these products via the Digital Care Services Framework (GPIT Futures) can therefore be confident that these products are appropriate for use in general practice. These products will be centrally funded.

• The bundled national procurement through the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Framework will also provide an approved supplier list for video consultation that commissioners can call off. This will be available from 24 March. It will be centrally funded.

What to do – commissioners:

• Find out if your practices have a video solution that they can use effectively with most patients. If they do, encourage them to use it as much as possible.If practices do not have a video solution, contact your NHS England and NHS Improvement regional digital team so that a video product can be provided to you through the Digital Care Services Framework or DPS bundled procurement.

• If practices have a video solution but there are concerns about its appropriateness or compliance, please let your NHS England and NHS Improvement regional digital team know so that a video product can be provided to you through the Digital Care Services Framework or DPS bundled procurement.

• You can also contact the DCSF team via gpitfutures@nhs.net or the DPS team at commercial.procurementhub@nhs.net

What to do – practices:

• If you have a video conferencing tool available that you can use effectively for most patients, please use it as much as possible to manage patient contacts remotely.

• If you do not have a video solution, contact your commissioner so that one can be provided to you.

• If you have a video solution but you have concerns about its appropriateness or compliance, please let your commissioner know so that a video product can be provided to you.

• You can also contact the DCSF team via gpitfutures@nhs.net or the DPS team at commercial.procurementhub@nhs.net

Source: NHS England, Preparedness update letter for general practice: 27 March 2020 [published 27 March]