4 Feb 2015

Video Conferencing - A Correction

In yesterday's post about the Community Council meeting, I stated, "No use has been made of the video-conferencing unit in the Learning Centre even though our ERs are fully trained for it. The satellite broadband costs alone are £5,000pa." This is incorrect, and Pat Glenday, who runs the Kilchoan Learning Centre, has asked that the record be set straight. She writes -

During 2013 a dedicated room was created for the Emergency Responders (ERs) within Kilchoan Learning Centre. The learning centre is part of West Highland College UHI. The ER room has its own independent access, and all the Emergency Responders have their own keys. There is an internal lockable door between the ER room and the Learning Centre itself. The room contains a high quality VC unit, a patient couch, and storage for the ERs' equipment, with a toilet off. Scottish Ambulance Service paid for the construction of the room and all the equipment in it. Since 2013, West Highland College has charged SAS to rent this room. The rent is £5,000 per annum and includes electricity, a landline, cleaning, broadband connection, my services to assist with the maintenance and use of the Video Conferencing unit, and free access to the rest of the Learning Centre whenever it is not needed by students. The SAS VC unit has its own satellite broadband connection, the monthly rental for which is paid by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), and amounts to some £1,200 per year. This is the standard business tariff (if anyone is interested I think the domestic tariff is about £30 per month). UHI agreed to pay it because, as I'm sure readers are aware, our local broadband, to which the Learning Centre is connected via the BT line, is very limited, and far too slow to support the level of connectivity that I need to get a really clear picture or to run more than one VC at a time. Therefore, when I am running two college VCs concurrently, which is quite often the case, I connect one of the college's VCs to the satellite. The satellite connection has sufficient capacity to support several VCs at any one time. The satellite connection also allows me to keep the Centre running when there is a problem with the UHI network, and vice versa. One day recently, when there was a problem with the SAS VC, I was able to make the connection for the NHS representative who needed it, via the college's own VC.

As was correctly pointed out on the WANI, the ER VC has not yet been used to allow communication between the ERs and a doctor during the treatment of a casualty. However, the ERs do use the room very regularly to charge up and maintain their equipment, replenish supplies, and as a base for training. They have treated some casualties in the room, and patients have been supported there while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The VC itself has been used by NHS staff on a number of occasions for a variety of reasons: to attend meetings, to take part in training, to talk to a patient who was in hospital in Inverness, and for a family member to take part in an NHS case conference taking place in Aberdeen.

I'm sure the SAS VC could have been used more, and I am happy to assist anybody who does wish to make use of it; but SAS and NHS will first have to decide how they want it to be used and by whom, and make sure their staff know of its existence. People do require a little bit of help to make use of the VC, and in some cases (especially if more than two locations are involved in the VC) an advance booking is required. The VC equipment also needs to be checked regularly, and updated. I think it would be appropriate for the Learning Centre to continue to carry out the maintenance and also to act as the intermediary between local users of the VC and the NHS's VC booking and helpdesk, just as I have already been doing, on an informal basis. I hope that, in the very near future, I will get more information from both NHS and SAS as to how they want to see this project progress and develop.

It is my opinion that the Learning Centre's ER room, and the associated VC and its satellite connection, represent an excellent example of partnership working between two organisations (West Highland College UHI and SAS/NHS) both endeavouring to do their best to provide a service to our remote community at a time of financial stringency.

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