PATIENTS in West Dunbartonshire could see video consultations become a “normal part” of the delivery of healthcare, according to a senior clinician.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s (NHSGGC) deputy medical director for acute services and respiratory consultant, Dr Scott Davidson, wants to challenge the idea that video consultations are being used to comprehensively replace face-to-face appointments.

The health board has delivered more than 300,000 video calls since the start of the pandemic.

Dr Davidson said: “As we move into winter, our health service continues to respond to a myriad of challenges which has seen us adapt and evolve in order to maintain a service which delivers safe, effective and person-centred care.

“One of the key tools we are using to help combat these challenges are video consultations, also known as virtual consultations.

“We’ve delivered upwards of 300,000 video consultations since the pandemic began, and they are of huge benefit to both patients and staff.

“However, there is an unhelpful and misguided narrative that video consultations are inferior or are wholesale replacing face-to-face appointments.

“This is untrue, and risks creating resistance to what is a genuinely beneficial service which helps deliver safe and efficient care to patients.”

Of an NHSGGC survey of 3,481 virtual consultation patients, more than 98 per cent said they would use the service again.

More than four out of five (83 per cent) highlighted not having to travel for an appointment as the biggest benefit, with just under two-thirds (61 per cent) pointing to an increased convenience and 58 per cent indicating the consultations represented a more efficient use of their time overall.

Dr Davidson says there is no blanket replacement of face-to-face appointments and that virtual must work alongside other means of treating patients.

He added: “We know virtual appointments aren’t for everyone, and face-to-face will always be extremely important and in fact, is already scaling back up. However, due to increases in demand on our services – a reality we faced well before the pandemic, we simply cannot go back to the way things were pre-Covid.”