The video consultation service was rolled out by the Welsh government last year to help connect self-isolating patients with healthcare services during the pandemic.
Pharmacies that complete the training and platform set-up with the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) and run a test consultation of over 30 seconds are eligible to receive a £60 grant to meet the cost of obtaining the hardware, Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) explained.
But at the end of last month, just 140 community pharmacies in Wales had attended the training, CPW confirmed to C+D.
It is unclear how many of the trained pharmacies are using the technology regularly, according to CPW, but there is significantly less demand for the service in community pharmacies compared to GPs, the negotiator suggested.
CPW encouraged the use of consultation technology to connect with patients “when appropriate”, but Judy Thomas, CPW director of contractor services, urged pharmacies to attend the training and access the hardware grant “as soon as possible”.
Issues with utility for community pharmacy
A community pharmacist in Wales – who preferred to remain anonymous – attended the training, but did not complete the registration process, as “I couldn’t see it being something of much use to us at this moment in time”.
They suggested it might be more beneficial for larger pharmacies, with bigger teams to manage the workload.
“In some situations, and some pharmacies, it may be more useful than others, but where there is a mix of phone calls and people already coming to the pharmacy for many conditions in person, it may add to the workload trying to use the tool without necessarily having a significant impact on patient benefit,” the pharmacist said.