hyper-connected healthcare network
Rory has launched a new campaign to ensure Cumbrian healthcare gets the full benefit of new technology and superfast broadband.
During the last month Rory has held separate meetings with executives at NHS Cumbria, the Cumberland Infirmary, the Joint Leagues of Friends of north Cumbria’s community hospitals, and the out-of-hours service Cumbria Health On-Call (CHOC) to appeal for the introduction of pilot tele-health and tele-medicine initiatives in Penrith and the Border. He has also met with local charities, such as Eden Community Alarms, who are actively promoting tele-care advances to help increase the independence at home of the elderly and ill, and broadband providers such as Alston’s Cybermoor which, in collaboration with the Alston Community Hospital’s League of Friends, is exploring how video-link technology can improve the delivery of healthcare in rural Cumbria.
Rory sees faster broadband as key to overcoming obstacles of distance and isolation, all of which hamper access to effective clinical, nursing and residential care.
Mr Stewart commented: “I am working hard to ensure that our local healthcare providers make the most of new technology to improve delivery in rural areas to each and every person who is vulnerable or isolated due to location, age or ill-health. Our population is ageing. Our services are stretched. I have been delighted to find that our community hospitals recognise the urgent need for tele-health services in Penrith and the Border, and are doing an amazing job of highlighting the importance of keeping clinical services close to people in rural areas. Out-of-hours providers such as CHOC are open to piloting new techniques. A huge number and variety of services, such as stroke monitoring and neurology services, can be delivered with better internet bandwidth. Eventually, we should be able to see constituents accessing high-speed advice and care through this method – and even conduct doctor’s appointments in this way. This will be a vitally important step in overcoming isolation and the problems associated with living in our very rural part of England, and I want Penrith and the Border to be a hyper-connected healthcare pilot.”
Representatives of Alston Community Hospital’s League of Friends said: “There could be immeasurable benefits in our remote county. Doctors can access patients remotely, reducing time and travelling costs; there will be the reduced costs of unnecessarily transporting patients to hospital; whatever the time, weather, or circumstances, patients in places like Alston or Mallerstang or Caldbeck will be guaranteed access to care that suits them and at the same time reduces the burden on an over-stretched NHS. It’s a win-win situation, and we are so grateful for all that Rory is doing to push for this not only for his constituency, but for Cumbria and the rest of rural Britain. It is so important that we move with the times and do not get left behind.”
Rory intends to push for the immediate establishment of a video-link pilot at Alston Community Hospital, and hopes to replicate the technology in pilots across the rest of his constituency, establishing links between communities, care homes and community hospitals, and specialist care and advice at larger hospitals and clinics.