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SCC Collaboration helped London Community Healthcare NHS Trust keep patients and staff safe with close to 100,000 video consultations during COVID-19 pandemic.
Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (CLCH) provides community health services to more than two million people across eleven London boroughs and Hertfordshire. The Trust delivers physical health services to patients directly in their homes and near to home and a mixture of adult and children services such as community nursing and health visiting.
The Trust provides high-quality healthcare in people’s homes and local clinics, helping them to stay well, manage their own health with the right support, and avoid unnecessary trips to, or long stays in, hospital. CLCH support its patients at every stage of their lives, providing health visiting for new-born babies through to community nursing, stroke rehabilitation and palliative care for people towards the end of their lives.
Whilst geographically dispersed, CLCH needs to maintain centralised IT functions to ensure it operates effectively as one. This includes a robust collaboration strategy to enable communication between boroughs without the requirement for time consuming and environmentally unfriendly travel.
“SCC Collaboration’s responsiveness in the face of a pandemic and, importantly, its understanding of the implications for a healthcare organisation like ours, was critical. We’ve learnt a huge amount, specifically around remote patient consultations which was not originally a detailed part of the project scope in the first phase.”
In late 2019, the Trust initiated a project to implement a new videoconferencing (VC) platform to enable inter-organisational communications. This included hardware to create physical meeting rooms as well as the capability for the platform to be easily accessed from anywhere, enabling clinical staff to join videoconferences remotely whilst working remotely and visiting patients.
Within the project scope, CLCH wanted to ensure the VC solution was capable of operating externally, to enable remote consultations between clinicians and patients in the future. This, however, was not an immediate requirement.
Partway through implementation of the project, COVID-19 struck, causing widespread disruption in all sectors – none more so than in healthcare, where the NHS faced being overwhelmed by the increase in COVID-19 related hospitalisations.
The pandemic led to major incident arrangements within the NHS. As was the case for most organisations, CLCH urgently needed to enable homeworking and safe socially distanced delivery of care wherever possible, requiring the acceleration of its VC project. The Trust also has an immediate requirement to deliver video consultations with patients, where clinically appropriate, in order to keep staff and patients safe – something that was previously only a longer-term consideration.
With this in mind, CLCH was challenged at the beginning of March 2020 to fast-track the project and deliver it within two weeks. The Trust achieved video consultations with patients due to SCC Collaboration’s hard work, flexibility, and prioritisation of the project, working in close collaboration with CLCH whose IT team carried out significant and tireless work to bring forward necessary changes to internal IT processes and governance.
Exactly two weeks later, CLCH launched its remote patient consultation capability, whilst SCC Collaboration continued to work on the project, supporting adoption and training by running a number of training sessions to help navigate the sudden shift to delivering healthcare services remotely and ensuring the Trust utilised its full set of tools.
By October 2020, CLCH had delivered close to 100,000 video consultations – many within children’s services to support new parents through strict lockdown measures.
Another significant challenge the Trust faced during the coronavirus crisis was a rapidly changing environment and the need to engage and communicate with staff, keeping them up to date with the latest national and regional situation, CLCH’s ongoing response to COVID-19, the developing approach to staff and patient wellbeing, and critical information around infection prevention and control, specifically the distribution and correct usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
CLCH reached out to SCC Collaboration, who identified a suitable solution for holding large staff meetings remotely and implemented it within a matter of days. This has enabled the Trust to undertake all-staff webinars, communicate messages to staff, and respond publicly to questions. Town Hall meetings are held by the Trust’s executive management team to address all staff, as well as within specific clinical divisions and to deliver tailored communication and support to the Trust’s most vulnerable people.
The SCC Collaboration video collaboration solution also helped CLCH’s leadership team offer the appropriate level of support to its black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff, where clinical evidence showed a greater risk from COVID-19 to the BAME community and during periods of response around the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, where appropriate support and messaging was made available remotely.
Andrew Chronias, Chief Information Officer at CLCH, said: “Following what had been a fairly routine selection process, originally around corporate communications and internal collaboration, we very quickly faced the challenge of maintaining the delivery of healthcare services and upholding positive patient journeys throughout an unprecedented and highly disruptive event.
“SCC Collaboration’s responsiveness in the face of a pandemic and, importantly, its understanding of the implications for a healthcare organisation like ours, was critical. We’ve learnt a huge amount, specifically around remote patient consultations which was not originally a detailed part of the project scope in the first phase.
“SCC Collaboration’s flexibility in the early phases of the project and, notably, throughout the coronavirus crisis has been crucial to enabling the continuation of services and keeping our staff and patients safe. SCC Collaboration also provided the added value of training as our staff got to grips with the sudden adoption of new technology and a different way of delivering health services.
“Whilst carrying out a significant volume of video consultations, both the call quality and, crucially, the availability has been outstanding, without a single bit of downtime affecting the delivery of services to patients. The collaboration between CLCH and SCC Collaboration has been a really positive experience and we’re grateful to SCC Collaboration for its commitment to supporting and prioritising its NHS customers during this historic and challenging year.”