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UCLPartners launch new guide on how to set-up non face-to-face clinics

28 January 2020

A free online guide from UCLPartners to setting up non-face-to-face clinics for NHS managers and clinicians has launched today.

Non face-to-face clinics (also known as virtual clinics) can help reduce unnecessary outpatient visits, saving time and money for patients and the health service. The NHS aims to avoid up to a third of the number of face-to-face outpatient visits over five years, removing the need for up to 30 million outpatient appointments each year.

However, there is little practical guidance on how to develop this approach.

The new how-to guide, developed by UCLPartners in collaboration with NHS clinicians, managers and patients, provides a comprehensive guide to setting up non-face-to-face clinics, including how to develop a project plan and business case. It is free to use, delivered through both text and videos, and can be accessed via our website.

“NHS outpatient visits to hospitals have doubled in the past decade,” said Professor Mike Roberts, UCLPartners Managing Director and a respiratory physician. “This guide – based on the experiences and insights of our NHS partners and patients – provides practical support to those looking to set up non-face-to-face clinics, with benefits for patients and staff.”

Non face-to-face clinics can be delivered through two models:

  • Synchronous: where patients and clinicians interact in real time, for example by webcam or phone.
  • Asynchronous: where patients and clinicians interact at different times, for example secondary care specialists make decisions about a patient’s management based on data gathered in primary care.

Patients can benefit from this approach as it reduces the need to attend unnecessary appointments, saving time and money on travel and time-off from work, and other related issues. Reducing outpatient visits can also have a positive effect on the environment – 5% of road traffic can be attributed to NHS-related visits.

Steve Shaw, Medical Director for Outpatient Transformation, NHS London said:

“We know that the current model we have for provision of outpatients is not working as well as it should in London. We need to improve the experience for both patients and staff.

“Non face-to-face clinics can help reduce unnecessary visits to hospitals but are still a relatively new model of care. This comprehensive guide is a welcome resource to help teams develop and embed this approach.”

Raj Mehta, Patient and Public representative said:

“Over the past year, as a patient and public representative, I have been involved in this very important initiative to deliver outpatient care in a more flexible manner.

“I believe delivering outpatient care in a non face-to-face model provides many benefits, such as easier to access care, reducing travel costs, costs for parking, childcare, time off work and increasing choice for patients. As patients, we have contributed to this resource as we’re all passionate about making a difference to the current way that outpatient care is delivered to better suit the needs of patients, public and clinicians.”

Partners involved in developing the resource include:

  • Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
  • University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Whittington Health NHS Trust
  • University College London
  • North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust
  • One London
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Patient and public representatives

The guide was developed in collaboration with Health Education England and was created with the help of learning technology company Agylia and website development by The Bureau. Woven Ink created the animation.

Launch event

On February 11 we will be hosting a launch event for our non face-to-face how-to guide.

We will be introducing the resource, as well as hearing from:

  • Steve Shaw (Medical Director for Outpatient Transformation, NHS London) about the future of non face-to-face models 
  • Sheila Johnston (Lead Nurse for Nephrology, Royal Free Hospital) about the experience of running a virtual renal clinic at the Royal Free.

For more information please visit: