Better Care Together and the Millom Alliance with the aim of reducing the number of unnecessary patient journeys to the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) at Furness General Hospital (FGH).

Millom has a small population of 8,500 people yet it generates 22,900 patient journeys every year to FGH for healthcare related to Emergency Department attendances, Outpatient appointments and Elective Admissions.

The journey from Millom to Barrow takes 50 minutes each way and in many cases could be prevented. The scheme, called telehealth, which is currently being piloted, involves a triage room in Waterloo House GP Surgery in Millom which is equipped with a High Definition camera and monitor. There is a similar facility at the Emergency Department in Furness General Hospital to allow two way consultations to take place.

The project aims to deliver faster access for people to the most appropriate Healthcare Professional, and where possible reduce the time and effort required for them in order to do so.

Paul Grout, Deputy Medical Director, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The purpose of the secure telehealth link is to enable direct communication between the two sites, enabling Nurse Practitioners or General Practitioners to call on the expertise of senior consultants in the Emergency Department to remotely triage a patient for a second opinion. “A high definition camera means that wounds or injuries can be seen by the team in Furness, potentially avoiding the need for patients to travel from Millom to Barrow and receive treatment locally.”

Alison Redshaw, Practice Manager at Waterloo House GP Surgery, said: “The Practice is really excited to have such technology to work alongside normal procedures. The link to the Emergency department will provide the GP with expert emergency advice where appropriate, will give patients an additional service, and may prevent the journey through to Furness General.”

Jennifer Jakubowski, from Millom Health Action Group said: “As a mother of five young children I find it extremely difficult to travel to Barrow for healthcare. The possibility of being able to get additional expert advice locally without having to leave the town would be absolutely fantastic and save enormous amount of time and stress for my whole family.”

Rebecca Fairclough (Electronic Patient Record Advisor, Better Care Together) held Telehealth training sessions for staff at Waterloo House GP surgery and said: “Telehealth is going to benefit the patients of Millom massively; they may not have to make the long journey to see a specialist anymore. It may also reduce attendances to the Emergency Department at Furness General Hospital.”

Future plans include making video consultations available for Out of Hours GP’s and Out-Patient Appointments.