Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Covid-19 and net zero for health

Video consulting contributes to carbon neutral healthcare

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 06 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4300
  1. Gemma Johns, research and evaluation lead,
  2. Sara Khalil, programme lead,
  3. Mike Ogonovsky, senior responsible officer,
  4. Alka Ahuja, clinical lead
  1. Technology Enabled Care Cymru, Mamhilad House, Mamhilad Park NP4 0YP, UK
  1. Alka.Ahuja{at}

We at NHS Wales are also working towards contributing to a carbon neutral NHS.1 The NHS in Wales substantially changed the way it delivered care in March 2020 when the covid-19 crisis emerged. The Welsh government issued an emergency response offering primary, secondary, and community care NHS services across all of Wales unlimited use of a new video consulting service, which was implemented and robustly evaluated by Technology Enabled Care Cymru.2

The National Video Consulting Service went live on 16 March and has delivered 55 000 video consultations across more than 100 different specialties. Over 20 000 research participants have reported huge benefits to patients, professionals, and the environment—for example, 5539 hours of patient and clinician travel has been saved, along with 55 tonnes of CO2. In terms of staff wellbeing and work-life balance, the service found that 25-30% of clinicians were opting to work from home and would prefer doing this in the future. On average, patients saved 49 minutes’ travel per NHS appointment—a contribution towards a carbon neutral healthcare. Other benefits have included saved clinical and patient time, space, and preparation, less paper waste, less need for room bookings and costs, savings on childcare, and less time off work or school.

The National Video Consulting Service was rolled out in response to the covid-19 emergency, but Wales, like other countries, has seen major improvements using digital for the delivery of healthcare. The Welsh health minister has now issued a statement saying that digital is here to stay, supporting the use of technology to deliver healthcare as the way forward to improve patient care, the NHS, and the environment.3


  • Competing interests: None declared.

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