Oxford Health’s digital consultations project – entry titled 100,000 digital consultations: making life easier for staff and patients during the pandemic – has been shortlisted for the IT & Digital Innovation Award in the HSJ Value Awards.

The project was set up in March 2020 to support clinicians and patients to respond to the Covid crisis. Assembled in just one week in March 2020, the project team engineered a systematic and seamless transition from face-to-face appointments to a trust-wide digital offer.

Ambitions targets

The team’s ambitious target was to achieve 100,000 digital consultations in a year, more than any NHS trust had done. This was already reached in November 2020, and as we mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the first lockdown, the trust has surpassed 170,000 digital consultations. The scale of the roll-out is reflected in NHS benchmarking reports, with CAMHS services achieving the third highest take up amongst all trusts, and adult mental health services featuring in the top ten nationwide.

Throughout the pandemic, digital consultations have enabled patients to access health care from the safety and comfort of a place of their choosing. Patients also report good satisfaction as digital consultations remove the stress, time and cost often associated with travelling to face-to-face appointments.

Multi-discipline champions

Digital consultations team photo

Some of Oxford Health’s digital champions from the multi-disciplinary team.

The project has been led by a small, dedicated team, with key project ‘champions’ dedicated to each directorate. The team consists of the trust digital lead, service change and project managers, and IT, data, and communication managers across Oxford, Bucks and Banes, Swindon and Wiltshire, exemplifying how multi-functional teams can collaborate and deliver change at Oxford Health.

The team members are: Katayoon Bamdad, Tris Church, Richard Porteous, Natasha Browne, Sam Gillanders, Umar Ansari, Jeremy Player, Mariona Casals, Ian McKendrick, Tim McIlhinney, Hannah Osman, David Jennings and Oliver Shipp (who has now left the trust.)

In a joint statement, the team stated:

 “At the very heart of this project was the welfare of both our staff and service users, hence we are extremely pleased that digital consultations offered a pragmatic solution to continue the seamless delivery of great quality care via a safe and efficient mechanism.

“Over 170,000 digital consultations within a 12-month period pays testament to our wonderful staff at Oxford Health who embraced the digital offer wholeheartedly and supported their patients to take maximum advantage of this offer.

“We are delighted that this project has been recognised by the HSJ Value Awards, and wish to thank all our colleagues and staff at the trust for their invaluable support during this very challenging time”.

Global Digital Exemplar Lead and Project Lead for digital consultation project Katayoon Bamdad said:

“I am truly inspired by the Digital Consultation Team’s personal commitment to making a difference in the unprecedented and challenging times we are facing due to Covid-19 pandemic. My predecessor Oliver Shipp’s approach  and dedication  embodied the Oxford Health way which is finding opportunities to address challenges, to do things differently,  and make continuous improvement in our patients lives. I am very proud of them as without them it would become impossible to meet our clinical staff and our service users’ needs in these difficult times.”

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan commented:

“We would like to congratulate the Oxford Health Digital Consultation Team on being shortlisted in the IT & Digital Innovation Award category for the HSJ Value Awards 2021. This year’s finalists have not only contributed to the continued fight against the covid-19 pandemic within the NHS but have also been exceptionally dedicated to enhancing healthcare across the UK. We are honoured to be recognising and celebrating their outstanding work after what is, no doubt, the most challenging year in the history of the NHS. We are looking forward to welcoming them to the ceremony in June.”

The winners will be selected following a rigorous, second stage of judging ahead of the HSJ Value Awards 2021 awards ceremony at the end of June.

The full list of finalists for the 2021 HSJ Value Awards can be found on HSJ Value Awards website