NHSX is working with technology firms to help some of society’s most at-risk and isolated people access vital emotional support and companionship during COVID-19.
As part of the work, Facebook will provide up to 2,050 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices, in-patient learning disability and autism units.
50 of the devices have already been deployed to pilot sites in Surrey, with Manchester, Newcastle and London and other areas to follow, with support from Accenture.
Commenting, NHSX digital transformation director, Iain O’Neil said: “Technology companies big and small continue to pledge their resources and expertise to support our NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times.
“We are working hard to find and develop services that meet people’s equally unprecedented needs. Technology has never been so important to providing one of life’s most essential things – the ability to communicate with the people we love regardless of where they are.”
As well as providing solutions to reducing social isolation among residents and patients, NHSX is working with a range of technology companies to support the NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times.
Additional solutions include enabling health and care staff to work remotely when they may be advised to work at home, improving communication between clinical and care teams, shifting hospital outpatients to virtual appointments, and accelerating the use of online and video consultations within GP and primary care services.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, added: “Social distancing is tough on us all, and we must remember how beneficial interaction with loved ones is for our wellbeing.
“I’m delighted that NHSX is partnering with Facebook to make it easier for those in care homes to keep in touch with friends and family, alongside the ongoing hard work by NHSX to expand communication capabilities across the health and social care sector.”