NHS North Yorkshire and York has announced that it will implement 2,000 telehealth systems from Tunstall following a successful pilot across the county.

The plans, which will see the primary care trust spend around £3.2m on the new systems, will create the largest telehealth programme in the UK, the PCT believes.

The decision follows an eight month pilot that was launched in October 2009.  One hundred and twenty machines were installed in patients’ homes to collect vital signs information, including temperature, blood pressure, and blood glucose and oxygen levels.

The readings were sent to a central monitoring centre via a phone. There, abnormalities were highlighted and a clinician asked to contact the patient if necessary.

Rosie Walker Smith, a case manager working in North Yorkshire, said: “Feedback from patients already using telehealth has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Not only does it reduce the risk of their condition deteriorating to the point they need hospital treatment, but also gives them the peace of mind that their condition is being monitored. It’s great that more patients will get to benefit from this technology.”

The PCT said the systems will enable it to identify and act on any deterioration in a patient’s condition and ultimately prevent them from being admitted to hospital. They should also support patients discharged from hospital.

The new scheme will focus on those patients that suffer from long term conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure and diabetes. In 2008-09 more than 6,000 patients in the area were admitted to hospital with respiratory and cardiac problems.

David Cockayne, director of strategy for NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “We are delighted to announce this significant investment in telehealth which we, and local clinicians, believe will continue to make a huge difference for patients living with a long term health condition.

“As outlined in our recently published five-year strategy, we are committed to providing care closer to home and improving the quality of life for patients living with a long term health condition. We recognise telehealth as being a key enabler to us achieving our aspirations.”

Tunstall won the contract to provide the systems following a competitive tender process.

Jon Lowe, UK managing director at Tunstall Healthcare said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NHS North Yorkshire and York to reshape the way care is delivered closer to home, using innovative technology to support and sustain care delivery.

"One thing is clear, patients are at the heart of everything we do and telehealth can have an immediate and lasting positive impact on patient care and clinical quality.

"We very much look forward to working with NHS North Yorkshire and York to deliver a whole systems approach to care, allowing clinical teams to unlock the benefits for patients and carers.”

Links: Tunstall

NHS North Yorkshire and York