MORE than 800 Ayrshire and Arran residents took advantage of a new scheme of video consulting with their GP during the coronavirus lockdown.

The NHS in Scotland is ramping up its use of their ground-breaking system that allows clinicians to consult with patients remotely.

Developed and tested in 2018 and 2019, the Near Me video consulting service was initially used mainly in the Highlands, where distances can be an issue.

Now, its use is being rapidly escalated in Scotland as part of the COVID-19 response.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran reported that 819 video consultations using Near Me were carried out in its area between March 16 and April 16.

The board’s medical director, Dr Crawford McGuffie, said: “This is an unprecedented time and we have seen rapid changes to the way we deliver our health services within a short period of time.

On many occasions during the COVID-19 pandemic, video appointments have proved invaluable to patients across Ayrshire and Arran.

“I’d like to pay tribute to staff across NHS Ayrshire and Arran, and across our three health and social care partnerships for their adaptability and resilience, utilising this technology to help us provide care. Likewise, the citizens of Ayrshire have embraced this change, provided supportive feedback, and continue to work with us to further improve this new way of working.”

Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director for the Scottish Government, said: “Near Me is proving to be an invaluable tool in the fight against coronavirus. It means people can receive urgent health care and advice remotely from the safety of their own home, without exposing them or NHS clinicians to infection risk. It’s also possible for GPs and other clinicians to use it from their home if they are at high risk of infection.”

As with any appointment, patients must first contact their GP practice and it will arrange for an appointment to be booked in the normal manner. This may be by telephone, virtual or face to face.

To use the system patients are given a link to a Near Me clinic and can start their video call from this link. The system checks that they have everything in place for a Near Me call and then asks the patient to enter his or her name and date of birth. The patient is then held in a secure waiting room until the clinician joins the video call. Once the clinician joins, the consultation takes place as normal.

General information is available at and a short video is also available showing how easy it is to use.


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