VIRTUAL group clinics for 10-15 patients will be rolled out across Wales in the next stage of a programme aimed at bringing care closer to people's homes.

Almost 11,000 GP consultations and close to 62,000 hospital and community care appointments for individual patients have taken place in Wales as part of the Attend Anywhere video consultation programme.

The programme has expanded rapidly in recent months and has helped to ensure patients continue to safely access healthcare services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 3.1 million patients a year are seen at outpatient departments across Wales, and virtual group clinics will deliver care to groups of people with similar health needs, including diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions, rheumatology and dermatology.

They will be available to patients via primary care, such as GP surgeries, hospitals, and community care settings.

Doctors, specialist nurses, and other clinicians will run sessions for 10-15 patients on a specific area of their care.

The shared care will allow for patients and clinicians to come together for the benefit of all. Patients can learn from the experience of others, have peer support, and develop alternative strategies to support their own care pathways.

And clinicians will be able to interact with a number of patients at one time, delivering consistent approaches to managing patients' care.


Therapy services in areas including dietetics, pulmonary rehabilitation, and speech and language therapy are already being delivered via virtual group clinics by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales, and feedback from patients and staff has been positive.

Patients reported that the service has been far more convenient and avoids costs associated with taking time off work and travelling to appointments. The opportunity to share experiences with others was also seen as a benefit, and the technology has been considered easy to use.

In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, virtual group clinics also provide convenient access to support and advice for those who are self-isolating, have mobility issues, or are housebound.

They also intend to help those who may have other commitments and time constraints, such as unpaid carers and those working from home.

“During the pandemic, we have seen transformational changes and new ways of working to ensure the continuity of patient care from GPs, community health in the community and in hospital outpatient departments," said health minister Vaughan Gething.

"Thousands of patients have already received excellent care via individual video consultations, and we can now accelerate our plans for virtual group consultations.

“Wales is the first country to roll-out this way of working across all three parts of our NHS. Our virtual group clinics will lead the way and ensure that people in Wales will be able to access the benefits of medical care and support, whichever clinician they need to see, in whatever setting, from the convenience of their own home."