The NHS Plan (2000) sets out a number of areas
where specific telemedicine and telecare development is expected:
"Ambulances will be equipped with video
and monitoring equipment so that victims of accidents can get
the most appropriate care while they are being taken to hospital"
"The consulting room will become the place
where appointments ... are booked, test results received and more
diagnosis carried out using video and telelinks to hospital specialists"
"New technology in the home will make independent
living easier for people who are elderly or disabled" (1.20)
"through investment in electronic patient
records all local health services will have facilities for telemedicine
by 2005 allowing patients to connect with staff electronically
for advice" (4.21)
Information for Health (1998) identified some
key application areas for telemedicine (1.29):
"opportunities in the field of telemedicine
will be seized to remove distance from healthcare, to improve
the quality of that care, and to help deliver new and integrated
services. GPs will be able to send test readings or images electronically
to hospital specialists many miles away and in the same way receive
results and advice more quickly
through telemedicine, nurse practitioners in
a community minor injuries unit will be able to consult doctors
in the local Accident and Emergency department, improving the
quality of care and preventing unnecessary travelling and referrals.
Specialists in regional teaching centres will provide on-line
guidance and support to colleagues in local general hospitals
telecare technology will be used to provide reliable
but unobtrusive supervision of vulnerable people who want to sustain
an independent life in their own home. Video links with electronic
monitoring will allow community health and social care workers
to "visit" patients at home more easily"
and set the specific target that the NHS should
be "routinely considering telemedicine and telecare options
in all Health Improvement Programmes"
Building the Information Core (2001) developed
this theme further.
Section 3.6 of that document declared that "Telemedicine
and telecare should be seen as an integral part of health care
delivery. It provides for information to be exchanged electronically
between sites separated in space and/or time, assisting healthcare
professionals to take decisions on appropriate health care delivery."
It also set some specific objectives for telemedicine:
Ambulance services should be planning
now on the basis that all new vehicles should be capable of being
fitted with video monitoring equipment (and the extent to which
existing vehicles can be retro-fitted), and liaising with acute
trusts to ensure that links are available to hospitals.
GPs should be looking to have video
conferencing capability by 2004 either in their own premises or
in collaboration with local colleagues.
Effective implementation of telecare
services involves local authority and private sector services
as well as community trusts. Local Implementation Strategies should
be considering ways of providing these services using telephone
lines, digital television, radio alarms and monitoring technology.