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NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has rapidly expanded its telehealth offering thanks to a £850,000 investment from NHS England, which is set to benefit thousands of Liverpool residents with long-term conditions.

A technology-led nursing service, telehealth provides remote home monitoring for patients with long-term health problems such as respiratory, heart and diabetic conditions.

The telehealth service – with equipment provided by Docobo – works by giving residents a smartphone, blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter to take vital sign readings and enter them onto Liverpool CCG’s telehealth system, along with other symptoms. A team of nurses then monitor these remotely and triage them to provide advice, support and onward referrals for patients.

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NHS England’s new £850,000 investment will help expand Liverpool’s telehealth offering by providing people with specialist monitoring in their own homes. This funding boost comes as part of the local NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will help people at higher risk from the virus to stay well and supported at home, as well as reduce the need for face-to-face contact.

Provided by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, the telehealth service was already supporting over 2,000 vulnerable patients across the city at a time, before the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, the new funding will allow the telehealth team to quickly expand the service to support up to 6,000 Liverpool patients. The investment will also provide additional system capacity to enable other CCG areas in Merseyside and Cheshire to develop a similar service.

Peter Almond, Programme Manager for the Telehealth Service at Mersey Care, commented: “Our team have been contacting local people who aren’t already using telehealth, but we feel might benefit from the extra monitoring and support that telehealth can provide to help them stay well during this time, because they are at higher risk.

“We’re aiming to take on another 2,500 living with chronic conditions straight away to help protect them whist they are shielding, as well as providing remote support and monitoring for patients in Liverpool with milder COVID-19 symptoms to help them manage the illness at home and stay out of hospital where possible.”

In addition, the telehealth system is also being used to support patients being discharged from a local hospital after recovering from coronavirus. The system allows for ongoing monitoring of a patient with COVID-19 by a specialist community respiratory team for the first fortnight after they return home from hospital, providing reassurance to both patients and their loved ones.

John Webb, NHS Liverpool CCG’s commissioning lead for the service, added: “The Telehealth service was set up to support people in their own homes to manage their long-term conditions better and stay out of hospital. But during this pandemic we are realising the benefits of using this kind of health technology more fully, especially as it can be scaled up so quickly and easily.

“At a time when thousands of high-risk patients are being advised to stay at home and to socially shield themselves, telehealth has the advantage of reducing the need for face-to-face consultations, with the inherent risks that can bring.

“Over the last few years we have built up a real specialism in health technology in Liverpool and we’re really delighted that several other neighbouring areas have already expressed a keen interest in sharing that learning and adopting the system too.”

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