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More online mental health services for Scotland


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Scottish Government is planning to increase the use of online channels in mental health services.

It has included the plans in its work programme for 2018-19, along with the building of a national digital platform to support the development of new clinical and care systems.

The document includes a section on online mental health services that outline three significant initiatives. One is to introduce a webchat function to the NHS 24 Breathing Space service – a ‘first stop’ in dealing with mental health issues – to put users in touch with an adviser.

It will be accompanied by increasing online access to cognitive behavioural therapy for people with mild to moderate depression, and improving access to psychological assessment and therapies in rural areas through the use of technology such as video conferencing.

The programme also reiterates the plan for a national digital platform – first outlined in the Digital Health and Care Strategy published in April – to provide secure access to real time data from health and care records. It will involve the building of a new architecture and use of cloud services and common international standards, with a programme that breaks down into three elements.

Info capture and innovation

First is information capture and access at point of contact with a patient. Second is research and innovation on new products to be made available through the platform, opening up an ecosystem of development and suppliers.

Third is the development of infrastructure and processes to support the appropriate use of information – which will also support a new public health body.

It will be accompanied by building the digital capability of health and care workers and the development of a community index to link information from different sources at a national level.

The work programme also refers to plans for a smarter booking system for the national NHS – to give patients more control over outpatient appointments and to come into use by the end of next April – and to improve health and social care services in prisons through improved clinical IT system.

Image from iStock

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