Physio sets up orthopaedic video conferencing clinics for patients in the remote Western Isles

A physiotherapist is collaborating with a hand surgeon to offer video conferencing clinics to people in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.


Extended scope practitioner Innes Morton (right) runs the clinics with Grzegorz Sianos (pictured on screen)

Innes Morton, an extended scope practitioner at the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, has teamed up with Glasgow-based orthopaedic surgeon Grzegorz Sianos, who specialises in hand surgery.

They are providing a remote first contact service that allows patients in the Western Isles to receive their initial assessments via video, in order to prevent unnecessary travel to mainland Scotland. 

Mr Morton told Frontline: ‘I present patients here in Stornoway and Mr Sianos asks questions and can view the assessment via the video conferencing link.

‘He has access to the National PACS [Picture Archiving and Communications Systems] to view X-rays, and we then make a decision about intervention. If a patient is offered surgery all pre-operative screening is done here in the Western Isles.’

Previously, patients on the island who had specialised /complex hand problems had no other option except to travel to Glasgow.

‘That meant a return flight, sometimes with an escort to help the person travel, to attend an assessment and then a return flight plus overnight stays for the procedure to be done,’ Mr Morton explained.

Saving time and money

During the first clinic, held in April, they saw 11 patients. Seven of whom subsequently required surgical procedures.

‘This saved over £3000 in travel expenses for one clinic and pleased a few people who do not particularly enjoy the flight on and off the island,’ said Mr Morton.

‘Verbal feedback has been excellent and patients are delighted to save a long journey of two flights, plus taxis, to see a consultant.

‘While we don’t want to compromise patient care we are keen to make savings where we can and speed up decision making. There are other video conferencing clinics offered here, neurology, respiratory and eyes and it seemed a good idea to try to use them for orthopaedics.

‘Feedback from a formal questionnaire is yet to be received and evaluated, but we are confident that this service offers great potential for managing this group of patients.’

Mr Morton and Mr Sianos now plan to hold the remote clinics on a quarterly basis, and he believes there is scope for other physiotherapists to be involvedin the future and run similar clinics.

Author: Robert Millett

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