Telehealth to stay – with some changes

LAST November (2016), NHS Kernow decided to end the provision of Cornwall’s Telehealth service following a six-month review.

The service provides remote health monitoring that allows people with a range of long-term health conditions to send electronic readings of their blood pressure, blood glucose levels and weight readings from their home to a nurse. A nurse then decides what support, if any, the patient needs.

Following strong opposition to this decision from the public, NHS Kernow conducted a six-week consultation, from September 19 to November 1, on its decision.

At its Governing Body on December 5, it approved a plan to retain and reconfigure the Telehealth service, working in partnership with the provider Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT).

Dr Iain Chorlton, NHS Kernow Chairman, said that the decision was based on evidence that was collected during this consultation, which included:
• The views of 514 patients, carers and staff who completed an online survey
• The views of 23 patients and carers and four Telehealth staff members who attended drop-in sessions organised by the CCG; and 41 people who emailed or called commissioners
• GPs also completed a clinical review of 640 people who use Telehealth to understand their needs
• An analysis of current research and service activity data (including 12-month snapshot of hospital activity) to consider where the service helped reduce the number of attendances and admissions.

He continued: “This information was analysed and discussed with NHS Kernow commissioners, managers and clinicians to ensure an in depth understanding of all the information before four recommendations were considered by the Governing Body.

The Governing Body approved an option to reconfigure Telehealth.

NHS Kernow will now work with CFT and primary care to develop a new service model, which is likely to include:
• A revised model provided to a much smaller cohort of individuals.
• Focussed eligibility and referral criteria including a shared personalised care plan for all.
• An increased number of short term users.
• Integration as part of the Integrated Community Teams (ICTs) including clinical management, supervision and geographical base.
• Changes to workforce with Telehealth nurses being part of ICTs.
• Technology and service development elements such as planned coaching.

The Governing Body also agreed the reconfigured function will align with the New Models of Care work-stream being led by Jackie Pendleton which includes elements of prevention, self-management and the continued development of integrated community teams.

The revised model will dovetail with the Shaping our Future plans and the principles of collaboration which are currently being discussed as part of the Accountable Care System Accord.

The council is also reviewing its strategy and plans for use of Telecare and there may be potential for improved alignment with that function.

We believe this provides us with an exciting opportunity to work with CFT, GPs and local health and social care teams to create a service that is based around people’s needs. People told us they wanted better links between everyone involved with their care, and this is also our aim.

Having remote monitoring provided within integrated community teams will also help staff to embrace technology to deliver effective and efficient care and ensure we continue to respond to change in technologically-enabled care.

This decision reinforces our commitment to work with our partners to design and embed services in our communities, in-line with our Shaping Our Future plans.”

It is expected that the new service will be available from April 1, 2018.

Dr Chorlton said that letters will be sent to everyone who uses Telehealth to explain what this decision means for their care.

Anyone using the service should continue to use it until they are told not to.

To contact NHS Kernow regarding this matter, please email: