Sheffield Children’s research project helps to improve video appointments for families

virtual appointments
03 August 2020

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has found that virtual appointments are here to stay after analysing patient and staff responses to new ways of working during the pandemic.

The Trust has had to make a number of changes during the COVID pandemic to the way it looks after patients, families and staff and is focused on ensuring these changes work for everyone. These include moving to virtual appointments, restricting visitors, more hand washing opportunities, introducing the need for patients and parents or carers to wear face coverings, all staff wear face masks as a minimum, social distancing measures and adaptations and much more.

Following the introduction of phone and video call appointments, Sheffield Children’s has worked closely with families and staff to understand how the appointments have felt and how they could be used in the future. With 4,418 responses to the survey and over 9,500 separate comments, the feedback showed 80% of patients and 90% of staff said virtual appointments were beneficial.

Following this positive feedback Sheffield Children’s is working to use a combined approach of both face to face and virtual approaches for future appointments for patients across the Trust.

Feedback included themes such as:

  • Having the appointment virtually meant not having to worry about travelling to the appointment and bringing children/siblings and managing the potential stress around that
  • Allows flexibility around school and work, less time taken out to attend the appointment
  • Some patients come to the hospital regularly and it was a nice break not to have to come in
  • If you don’t need examination or some tests it makes sense to do things virtually
  • Enabled patients to use non-verbal communication, sometimes they may find this difficult face to face but is much easier to communicate virtually
  • No need for PPE, face coverings to be worn

Ruth Brown, Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We really welcome the feedback patients and staff have provided. It’s helping us to shape our future ways of working, as well as understand how well our care has been received during the pandemic. Across the Trust we’re delighted to hear it’s been well received.

“We’re now working to refine the balance between face-to-face and virtual appointments with the aim that this research will help other Trusts, patients and families elsewhere too.”

You can read the full report here.

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