The NHS Highland ‘Near Me’ initiative has expanded to Mallaig, allowing patients to be seen online.
Located in a room at the Care Home Centre on Annie’s Brae, the unmanned device is one of 15 the board has already installed across Highland in the past six months.
The move means that people in the Mallaig area can now attend out-patient appointments using the NHS Near Me online video platform – eliminating the need to travel to see a consultant.
Since a pilot of the service was rolled out at Caithness General Hospital last year, some 24 departments within NHS Highland now offer appointments via NHS Near Me, with the Highland haematology service currently proving to be the number one provider of consultations in Scotland.
The board ultimately plans that most Highland patients will be able to use NHS Near Me from their homes using video calling devices such as a smartphone, tablet or computer.
While the home option will be the preferred one for patients, the unstaffed Mallaig and Eigg units are part of a back-up system in case people can’t connect from their homes – ensuring an equitable service for all.
NHS Highland’s NHS Near Me lead, Clare Morrison, said: “The opening of the NHS Near Me room in Mallaig marks the near completion of the installation phase of NHS Near Me Clinic units across Highland.”
“Our experience of using NHS Near Me in Caithness, and an earlier project using video consulting technology at home, showed that not everyone has a smartphone, computer or good internet connection.
“That’s why we have installed these unstaffed rooms: so everyone can access the NHS Near Me service.”
The NHS Near Me clinic room network has both staffed and unstaffed rooms. At the staffed clinics, patients can receive clinical support, such as a blood test, all within a call. These staffed clinics are available in Wick, Portree, Fort William and Golspie.
Unstaffed rooms are now in place in Thurso, Bonar Bridge, Bettyhill, Durness, Kinlochbervie, Lochinver, Gairloch, Raasay, Kyle of Lochalsh, Fort Augustus, Mallaig and Eigg. NHS Near Me units will soon open in Kingussie, Grantown on Spey and Strontian. Plans are also in place for further unstaffed rooms in Ullapool, Invergordon, Nairn and Dingwall.