GPs need more support from CCGs on telehealth services

GPs need more financial and educational backing from CCGs if the NHS is to succeed with the widescale roll out of telehealth services.

Dr Ruth Chambers: More help needed for practices to implement telehealth
Dr Ruth Chambers: More help needed for practices to implement telehealth

The call comes from Dr Ruth Chambers, GP and clinical telehealth lead at Stoke-on-Trent CCG, as NHS England prepares a new delivery plan for technology enabled care services (TECS) over the next three years.

Dr Chambers is co-chair of NHS England’s rapid design Task and Finish group for commissioning skills and capability for the delivery of TECS.

Writing in a special report by GPonline.com’s sister website Inside Commissioning, she says practices need clarity on funding for new equipment and education about best clinical practice.

Dr Chambers said: ‘Sometimes the challenge is addressing the unease of clinicians about what is best practice in clinical management, so the training might combine best practice in a clinical area with how to use available technology as well. Once signed up, clinicians can suggest new applications for technology that can be commissioned or adopted by them in practice.’

Ministers added a new DES for remote care monitoring to the GP contract in April 2013, bringing GPs and practices directly into contact with local telehealth arrangements - but this has been dropped from the 2014/15 contract.

Research undertaken by GP magazine and GPonline.com in September last year showed that 28% of CCGs commissioning telehealth services were struggling with implementation.

Dr Chambers said CCGs and practices needed to work together to fulfill the potential of telehealth services and realise the full benefits for patients.

‘CCGs and practices must work together to improve the quality and safety of general practice care for their patient population and solve issues that inhibit the adoption and rollout of TECS with shared goals.

‘CCGs need to fund associated equipment such as sphygmomanometers, pulse oximeters, weighing scales or computer hardware, if they want practice teams to deliver TECS on a wide scale. At present, many CCGs and practices expect each other to fund such equipment and this restricts rollout of services.’

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