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NHS telecare could be rented

The NHS should rent telecare equipment through monthly contracts, like those used for mobile phones, care services minister Paul Burstow has suggested.

The strategy has already been tried in Gloucestershire, where the provider covers up-front costs, including clinical engagement, pathway redesign and training. NHS Gloucestershire then rents telecare on a per patient per month basis.

Speaking at the King’s Fund International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare yesterday (March 7), Burstow said: “NHS Gloucester avoids the need for large scale up-front costs, and it enables the supplier to build relationships with patients and customers that it otherwise would not have.”

But potential obstacles to the roll-out of this strategy include broadband capacity, which can be low in rural areas. Additionally, issues with staff lacking sufficient understanding and skills for using telecare have led the Government to ask the NHS Institute to develop a support programme for staff and patients.

Burstow continued: “Costs in the UK are significantly higher than they are in the US, and it is no wonder because in the current situation we have only 6,000 users, compared to 10 times that number in the veterans’ association in the US. That is why we are looking at promoting our campaign, 3millionlives, why we want to grow this rapidly.”

Chief executive of independent think tank, Julia Manning, who sits on editorial board, writes extensively on telehealth and the experience of the USA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in the January/February 2012 edition of National Health Executive. Health professionals can subscribe for free at: or call 0161 833 6320 and ask to subscribe to NHE.

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