A HOME health system designed to help chronically ill patients and save the NHS money is under threat in North Yorkshire after it was rejected by many GPs.
Less than a third of the 2,000 Telehealth machines on offer in the County are being used, the contract is due to end on April 1.
NHS York and North Yorkshire is negotiating with the five new GP clinical commissioning groups, CCG’s, over the renewal of contracts but many family doctors are not convinced.
Some CCG’s including Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby have already said they don’t want to take it forward although so far it’s understood no contracts have been cancelled and six months notice would have to be given.
The machines are installed in the homes of seriously ill patients helping them and medical staff monitor vital signs, sending information to doctors and nurses. The aim is to help patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart failure manage their illness and stay out of hospital.
Dr John Crompton, Chairman of the North Yorkshire Local Medical Committee said GP’s didn’t support it.
“It was premature and nobody was every really convinced of the benefits. At a time when we are really strapped for cash this wasn’t the right technology, we never saw this as the way forward. It was commissioned without consulting GP’s when there was no evidence of the benefits.”
But Coun Jim Clark, Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny committee said: “I just feel it has been unfortunate the way it has been rolled out, it’s totally disjointed. So in North Yorkshire we have areas such as Airedale embracing it but others not. Technology has to be the key in areas such as ours,” he said.
Kerry Wheeler, assistant director of strategy at NHS North Yorkshire and York, added: “Nearly 1,200 patients in our area have benefited from using telehealth. A recent patient survey also showed telehealth was having a positive impact on family members and carers.
It’s a major embarrassment for the NHS in the county after 2,000 telehealth machines were purchased in 2010 for over £3 million.
Currently 645 telehealth units are being used in total including 104 in Hambleton and Richmohndshire, 368 in the Vale of York and 47 in Harrogate and Airedale.