Ruth Maguire MSP has encouraged North Ayrshire residents to give their opinions on video consultations for health and social care.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran are seeking feedback on Near Me, a video consultation system used to remotely offer clinical advice.

This method of consultation in Scotland has rapidly escalated since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Prior to March, there were around 300 video consultations using the Near Me system; by June, there were almost 17,000 every week, with around 150,000 in total.

In Ayrshire and Arran, the numbers have risen in this period from 12 to 592 per week, with 4,816 in total.

The Near Me team – part of a national programme known as Technology Enabled Care – is looking for feedback through a survey which can be completed online (https://www.nearme.scot/views). There is also the option to provide feedback by email or by phone.

The SNP MSP said: “I’d encourage everybody to take part in the Near Me survey on the use of remote video consultations. During this period where we have adapted our behaviour to adhere to social distancing guidelines it’s understandable that this type of health and social care advice has become more prevalent.

“If this is to become a regular feature of NHS services across Ayrshire and Arran, and Scotland as a whole, it’s vital that as many people as possible give their views on how this can be tailored to be as effective and accessible as possible.”

NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s nurse director, Professor Hazel Borland, said: “Near Me video consulting is proving to be vital for those who deliver and receive health and social care during the pandemic and is being extensively used throughout Ayrshire and Arran. It has enabled services to continue to be provided without potential exposure to Covid-19 and has significantly reduced the number of people coming into health and social care premises. It has therefore made an important contribution to reducing the risk of the infection spreading. 

“It is important that we plan now for the future post-Covid 19 – and residents in Ayrshire and Arran can help shape that by getting involved with this public survey. This is a chance for local people to consider the Scottish Government’s Near Me vision and give their feedback on it.”

The survey is open until 24 July.