A mental health trust in Sussex is leading the way in providing digital appointments for patients during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to national figures for England.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust rolled out remote appointments through Attend Anywhere software on March 16 and in the first nine weeks provided more than 10,000 appointments.

More than 800 clinicians used the digital software to interact with patients across 131 of the trust’s services.

A spokesperson for the trust, which provides specialist mental health services to people of all ages across the south east, said this made the organisation the best performing trust using the system in England, based on NHS England figures.

The technology has been adopted by a full range of clinical services including adult and children’s services, learning disability services, dementia care and forensic services, reducing the need for physical attendance at sites.

Dr Gurprit Pannu, consultant psychiatrist at the trust, said: “The use of digital software to carry out clinical appointments has meant a large number of patients continued to receive specialist mental health care and support at a time of uncertainty for many of them.

“Prior to the Covid-19 restrictions Sussex Partnership had introduced virtual consultations to a small number of teams in primary care mental health care and urgent care.

“Patients have been overwhelmingly positive about this new way of working, and they’ve been really receptive to new ways of getting support.”

Jo Hillier, Sussex Partnership’s digital clinical lead, added: “The decision to introduce a new way of providing online care and support at the start of Covid-19 was taken to improve experiences for patients during an uncertain time.

“The trust’s ambition was to increase the opportunities for adoption across our wide range of mental health services, including learning disability services, dementia care, services for children and young people and forensic services, and I am delighted we have been able to achieve this.

“We ensured roll out focussed on the user experience, weaving it into the project plan from the beginning. Virtual consultation technology has enabled the trust to provide mental health care whilst reducing the spread of Covid-19 thus safeguarding service users, carers and our colleagues.”