COVID-19: guide for rapid implementation of remote consultations

Practical advice for physiotherapists and support workers on how to implement remote consultations rapidly and efficiently.

In line with current UK-wide advice all non-essential health and social care delivery must stop. Providers of all community care must consider if remote consultations can allow for services to be provided without any physical interaction. See our FAQ 'Face to face or not' on when it may be necessary to follow-up remote consultations with face-to-face.  Members working in non-essential services are likely to be made available to assist with essential services as per local need.


Remote consultations include video consultations (e.g. Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or other commercial products), telephone consultation, email and mobile messaging. Setting up remote consultation options normally requires time, planning and incremental introduction.

However, in these extenuating circumstances the CSP endorses a more rapid approach to implementation to minimise risks of exposure to COVID-19 to patients, the public and healthcare staff.  

Remote consultations are covered by CSP PLI (subject to policy terms and conditions) and should be considered when appropriate.

When should remote consultations be used?

A remote consultation should be used:

  • For clinicians who are self-isolating
  • For patients with symptoms of or confirmed COVID-19 infection
  • For patients who are at high risk of COVID-19 infection
  • For patients who are worried about attending appointments or having visitors, or with heightened anxiety (video consultation may be more reassuring than a phone call).
  • To maintain social distancing

When are remote consultations not appropriate?

Only management of acutely unwell COVID patients, in the support of discharge from hospital or for emergency/urgent symptoms should a patient be physically seen. All non-essential physiotherapy must stop with remote consultations used instead.

Using professional judgement

Clinicians should use their professional judgement to make decisions about the most appropriate consultation method on an individual basis.

Group classes must not be delivered physically face-to-face at this time and alternative methods of self-management such as online and web‐based resources must be considered. This presents an opportunity for physiotherapists to develop digital approaches which enable patients to access advice and support virtually.

Read the NHSX guidance on using off the shelf video conferencing tools like Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp as well as commercial products designed specifically for this purpose.

The University of Oxford have produced step by step guidance on delivering video consultation in general practice although this also may be applicable to other settings.

NHS England have developed guidance on delivering remote consultations and other ways of remote working in secondary care.

Watch the Q Community's webinar: Video consultation: how to set them up well, fast?

Have a look at some top tips from our members on using remote consultations:

Download the CSP guidance below for conducting remote consultations