Maree Todd says NHS Highland's Near Me service is 'transforming' rural healthcare
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
Maree Todd has praised NHS Highland's video consultation service for "transforming" the way healthcare is delivered in rural areas.
The SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross pointed out that the Near Me platform cuts travelling time and costs while allowing appointments to take place in settings where patients feel comfortable.
She was speaking after NHS Highland revealed that more than 1900 individual consultations had taken place using Near Me during September.
The health board estimates that each consultant’s appointment using Near Me saves an average of 100 miles travelled, which would mean around 190,000 miles were saved last month alone.
Near Me enables patients across the Highlands and Argyll and Bute to attend appointments from their own home or anywhere else that is convenient.
Ms Todd said: “For many living in rural areas, a healthcare appointment can be disruptive and costly. It can mean taking time away from work and caring responsibilities to travel long distances.
“The Near Me service works to address these issues, transforming the way we deliver rural healthcare. Not only does the service cut travel time and costs, it empowers the patient by enabling appointments to take place in an environment where the patient feels comfortable.
“There’s also the option to invite a friend or family member along for support or have them dial into the call if they are unable to be with you for the appointment.”
Appointments covered by Near Me include GP appointments, outpatient appointments and some treatments such as dietetics and mental health support.
According to patient feedback, 82.4 per cent who took part in Near Me appointments said they appreciated not having to travel and 78.1 per cent said the process had saved them time.
Ms Todd added: “Near Me gives patients choice and flexibility over how they access healthcare. I know that the Scottish Government is committed to building on this and supporting rural communities to address the health and social care challenges they face.
“It’s worth noting that Near Me is only appropriate for certain types of appointments. Your doctor will advise on what is best for you and whether you require a physical examination or procedure.”
Andrina Robb, Near Me support manager for NHS Highland, said: “Near Me has so many benefits to patients, but most importantly it gives them options on accessing healthcare in a way that is easy and comfortable for them."