NHS project lands national award

Torbay Weekly

An NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) project has won a prestigious national award.

The pioneering Devon Digital Accelerator (DDA) took top prize in the ‘Best Use of Technology in Primary Care’ category at the Building Better Healthcare Awards. The DDA works with GP practices to increase the uptake of online consultations among patients.

The judging panel – chaired by Roy Lilley; a founder member of the NHS Trust Foundation – described the CCG programme as “the future of primary care”.

The Building Better Healthcare Awards are aimed at professionals who consistently raise the bar across the healthcare industry sector. Judges look for projects that demonstrate a measurable positive impact on the overall experience of patients, staff, and visitors within a healthcare environment.

Dr John McCormick, Chief Clinical Information Officer for NHS Devon CCG, said: “As well as recognising the outstanding efforts of everyone involved in the DDA, this award emphasises the crucial role technology has to play in the future of healthcare.

“Thanks to the DDA, Devon has become a standard-bearer for online consultation usage and recorded some of the highest uptake figures in the country.

“The project has provided vital support for practice staff, ensuring thousands of patients have access to this valuable service.

“While the project started in 2019, it came into its own during the COVID-19 outbreak. Its work to promote the technology was invaluable in protecting the public and members of our health service by allowing patients to consult their GP from the safety of their own home during the pandemic.”

The DDA supports practices to introduce online consultation systems that suit the needs of patients and staff. The project centres on an online platform called ‘eConsult’, which enables patients to communicate their symptoms in an online form.

As well as helping to relieve pressure on GP services, online consultations are a quick, easy and convenient way for patients to access their GP practice. They can complete the form wherever they are and avoid unnecessary trips to the surgery.

Following its success, NHS England tasked the DDA for assistance writing a blueprint for the rapid implementation of online consultations during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.