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Free online guide to setting up virtual clinics published

UCL Partners has launched a free online guide to help the NHS to set up non-face-to-face clinics. The guide is designed for NHS managers and clinicians and has been developed in collaboration with those stakeholders as well as patients/representatives of the public. 


Non-face-to-face clinics, also known as virtual clinics, can help reduce unnecessary outpatient visits, saving time, money and unnecessary travel which contributes to air pollution and carbon footprint. The NHS aims to avoid up to a third of the number of face-to-face outpatient visits over five years, removing the need for up to 30 million outpatient appointments each year. However, this new model of providing consultations will require a different use of space as well as technology and until now there has been little practical guidance about how to develop this approach.


The new ‘how-to’ guide provides a comprehensive guide to setting up non-face-to-face clinics, including how to develop a project plan and business case. It is free to use, delivered through both text and videos, and can be accessed via the UCL Partners’ website.


Non-face-to-face clinics can be delivered through two models:

•Synchronous - where patients and clinicians interact in real time, perhaps by webcam or phone

•Asynchronous - where patients and clinicians interact at different times, for example secondary care specialists make decisions about a patient’s management based on data gathered in primary care.


Several NHS organisations have been involved in developing this resource, including: Barts Health NHS Trust, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Whittington Health NHS Trust and North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.


Steve Shaw, Medical Director for Outpatient Transformation, NHS London says: “We know that the current model we have for provision of outpatients is not working as well as it should in London. We need to improve the experience for both patients and staff.


“Non-face-to-face clinics can help reduce unnecessary visits to hospitals but are still a relatively new model of care. This comprehensive guide is a welcome resource to help teams develop and embed this approach.”