NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in partnership with OneRen Libraries has installed new technology in Johnstone Community Library which enables the local community to take advantage of video health consultations.

The ‘Near Me’ pod is a private consultation room and means patients who may otherwise need to travel long distances for face-to-face specialist medical appointments are able to be virtually assessed by clinicians based across NHSGGC, saving them time, travel and money.

Patients who receive a video appointment can attend the library at their allotted time, and specially trained library staff are on hand to make sure they’re able to get set up on the computer in time for their consultation.

The video technology then securely links the patient up with their clinician and they receive a full appointment. While video consulting isn’t suitable for all patients, it has been shown to be beneficial across a range of services and treatments – particularly to those patients with long-term health conditions which require regular clinical reviews.

A recent survey showed that of those patients who used it, 97% would use it again and it had a 92% satisfaction rate overall.

Johnstone Community Library is based in Johnstone Town Hall and is operated by OneRen on behalf of Renfrewshire Council. The library partnership has been specifically designed to ensure all patients are able to benefit from digital services offered by the Health Board and forms part of a wider national drive to widen digital inclusion.

The library is one of 10 libraries across Scotland participating in the pilot funded by the Scottish Government to break down barriers to accessing appointments using Near Me.

Denise Brown, interim director for e-health across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We know patients can benefit hugely from virtual consultations which provide another option alongside more traditional ways of receiving health care face-to-face and telephone. Johnstone Community Library already acts as a crucial hub for the local community and is therefore ideal to host our Near Me service to help ensure all of our patients are able to benefit from video consultations, regardless of whether they own digital devices themselves.”

Christine Laverty, Chief Officer for Renfrewshire HSCP, said: “I’m delighted to see Johnstone included in this pilot which marks an exciting development for patients in the area. As we look to new and improved ways of delivering healthcare, ensuring everyone has access to those innovations is essential to provide equal and quality healthcare for the whole area.”

Joyce Higgins, Libraries and Digital Development Manager at OneRen, said: “Our libraries have always been safe spaces which provide a warm welcome to our communities. We’re delighted to extend that welcome to NHS patients who can be supported at our library in Johnstone with their appointments. Our incredible staff will do everything they can to help put people at ease, make sure the technology works and assist with any other needs they may have in making a secure and confidential connection with their clinician.”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of OneRen, added: “I know from personal experience the benefits of a Near Me consultation in reducing often long and uncomfortable trips to hospitals for appointments and reducing the associated cost of travel.

“This partnership with NHSGGC will help more people to access Near Me appointments in a welcoming and safe environment, where our friendly team will provide every help and support. In the last year, we provided more than 10,000 digital assistance sessions across OneRen’s libraries, from helping people maintain benefit claims to simply keeping in touch with family and friends and this work will further support the communities we serve.”

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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