We pride ourselves on being an innovative and forward thinking organisation, which has been at the fore of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to implementing countless new ways of working to enable us to continue delivering services to our patients, we have contributed to the global effort to identify effective treatments for the virus.
In March 2020 we were the first Health Board in the UK to open the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 therapy) trial, and were a leading recruiter to the arm of the trial that found Dexamethasone to improve survival in COVID-19. Our research and development staff have also contributed to research that has highlighted symptoms of COVID-19 in children and hosted a major COVID-19 vaccine trial, while a patient at UHL was the first in Wales to receive monoclonal antibodies as part of a COVID-19 clinical trial.
In June, we launched the NHS Wales Video Consultation Service, enabling our patients to attend hospital appointments remotely. We have seen numerous innovative uses of the technology in the months since then, such as virtual ‘Stay Steady Virtual Clinics’ providing tailored support and advice to individuals who are worried about falling or are a little unsteady on their feet, speech and language therapists delivering their school service remotely, multi-disciplinary partnership working with colleagues in different organisations, and our endoscopy service shortening the length of sometimes uncomfortable procedures and minimising the use of PPE through conducting second opinions remotely. Video consultations have been exceptionally popular, with in excess of 10,000 already undertaken. The service has prevented more than 200,000 miles of patient travel to hospital..
With a reduction in the number of people coming to our sites, alongside significant numbers of people with rehabilitation needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched a new digital rehabilitation resource in June 2020, The Keeping Me Well online platform offers a range of information and advice that people can access to manage elements of their own rehabilitation.
Another group for whom video has made a big difference during the pandemic is our inpatients. After visiting restrictions were implemented at our sites, our Patient Experience and IT teams worked together to distribute 300 tablet devices to wards throughout our hospitals to help ‘digitally excluded’ patients contact the loved ones unable to visit them. Funded through Welsh Government’s COVID fund, the tablets have enabled inpatients to communicate with family and friends – in some cases the only method of doing so during their stay.
The COVID-19 pandemic has facilitated innovation here at Cardiff and Vale UHB, and supported by services such as our IT team who have worked tirelessly to enable staff who were no longer able to work on site to work from home and also roll out Microsoft Office 365, we have found various improved ways of working that will remain a part of how we do things long beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.