A SUPPORT programme for young people who self harm and have eating disorders which started in Gwent last year has now held almost 70,000 virtual appointments across Wales since being expanded nationwide.

CWTCH - Connecting With Telehealth to Children in Hospital - offers support through the option of a virtual online clinic, in the company of family members, rather than needing to travels to appointments.

The project begun to help young people admitted to paediatric wards in the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals, and was led by Professor Alka Ahuja, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, and visiting professor at the University of South Wales (USW) - one of the sponsors of the South Wales Argus Health and Care Awards 2020.

And since being expanded to cover the whole of Wales, the project has provided around 3,500 video consultations per week.


As well as providing safe and timely care for young people and their families, the project also aimed to reduce staff travel time and stress, with the potential for it to be used in future for delivering community clinics, virtual groups and remote care into schools.

The success of the project led to it being used as an exemplar by the Welsh Government when the National Video Consulting Service was rolled out across Wales in response to Covid-19.

In partnership with the Welsh Government and Technology Enabled Care Cymru (TEC Cymru), it became CWTCH Cymru, and now operates under a large team of clinical, technical and research expertise.

“The project has been a massive success,” Prof Ahuja said. ”It has delivered almost 70,000 consultations, with now approximately 3,500 video consultations per week across different specialities, and has evaluated the experiences of more than 23,000 participants.

“The users and clinicians have both benefitted from the National Video Consulting service which has protected the people in Wales while enabling safe delivery of care during COVID. TEC Cymru has provided training for more than 3,500 health workers and the eco-friendly service has saved 230,000 miles and 6,800 hours of travelling time."

The project was also part of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Clinical Futures transformation programme and initially received up to £75,000 funding from the Health Foundation.

Support with self harm or eating disorders is available from your GP.