Telehealth scheme criticised by GPs in North Yorkshire

Telehealth monitor being used Only 464 out of 2,000 Telehealth monitors bought by NHS North Yorkshire were in use, figures revealed

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Doctors in North Yorkshire have criticised the purchase of 2,000 remote home health monitors, as latest figures show that less than a quarter of the units are in use by patients.

Just 464 patients are using the units, figures seen by the BBC reveal.

There was "little evidence" the units, costing £3.2m and introduced in October 2010, were value for money, said North Yorkshire's Local Medical Committee.

But an NHS spokesman said the monitors had so far helped "countless" patients.

The Telehealth units check patients' vital signs while at home and send data to medical staff, who can intervene if necessary.

Only 114 more patients had begun using the Telehealth monitors between October 2011 and June 2012, NHS figures showed.

'Vital role'

Bought by NHS North Yorkshire and York in 2010, over three-quarters of the units remained in storage, according to a confidential NHS internal audit report seen by the BBC.

Start Quote

There's been very little good evidence locally and nationally of its effectiveness”

End Quote Dr John Crompton North Yorkshire Local Medical Committee

There was a lack of evidence supporting the purchase of 2,000 Telehealth monitors and no documentation to explain the scale of the project, according to the report.

The Telehealth scheme also faced limited support from doctors in North Yorkshire, it said.

Dr John Crompton, from North Yorkshire's Local Medical Committee, said while GPs "had an open mind" about the Telehealth scheme, they remained unconvinced.

"There's been very little good evidence locally and nationally of its effectiveness," said Dr Crompton.

"We've got so many other priorities. We need to concentrate on getting the best value for our patients."

Dr David Geddes, medical director for NHS North Yorkshire and York, said the units were bought based on clinical evidence and had enhanced the quality of life for many patients.

"We were one of the first areas in the UK to embark on such a large-scale Telehealth project and would have lost the opportunity to receive funding for it had we not acted quickly to procure the systems when we did."

While some GPs continued to be sceptical about the scheme, many others had seen first hand the "vital role" it could have in patient care, he said.

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