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Nurses are fantastic innovators as we know from the excellent work we cover in many news stories and the clinical articles collated in our Innovations hub. It is also said that necessity is the mother of invention. Taken together, the Covid-19 crisis has seen nurses developing new ways of delivering existing services, evolving them and creating new ones to meet the needs of the present situation.
In this issue of Nursing Times, we cover in detail the creation and outcomes of a virtual respiratory clinic to support patients with Covid-19 after discharge. The respiratory clinical nurse specialist team at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust developed the virtual Covid-19 clinic with the aim of ensuring patients were improving after discharge from hospital and to identify those who needed further input.
The system sees nurses provide a series of telephone consultations based on a red, amber, and green rating system. Results and feedback from colleagues at the trust and patients themselves has been positive, leading the nurses behind the initiative – Sarah Lewis, Angela Blundell, Jane Conway and Emma Meddick – to say that it highlights the need for the service to continue.
I am reminded also of the primary care nurses in Devon and Yorkshire who were featured in our June issue. They talked about how coronavirus had seen previous technology challenges overcome so that video consultations could start taking place with patients for the first time.
Given the leap forward with technology over the months of lockdown, such as the ability to easily hold video meetings, it feels now more than ever before that there is an opportunity to adopt new ways of engaging with patients without the need to attend a hospital or other physical facility. Ideas such as that introduced in Hertfordshire clearly have scope beyond Covid-19 to help nurses provide services to their patients, with benefits including reduced travel and waiting times for patients and improved infection prevention. As the team states, their virtual initiative “indicates that such a clinic is a novel concept for the future management of patients”.
The challenge will inevitably come in establishing such services in the long term, so they do not become the victim of any short-sighted financial squeeze. Trusts must back their clinicians with budgets in order to enjoy the wide-ranging benefits that their innovation brings.