Three NHS Western Isles projects have been shortlisted in the national Digital Health and Care Awards.

It has the highest number of projects shortlisted this year in NHS Scotland, and the NHS Western Isles Technology Enabled Care (TEC) team is delighted to have been selected as a finalist in the national Digital Health Awards for the third year in a row!

Specialist nurse, Angela Woodley, along with the local TEC team, has been shortlisted in the Innovative Remote and Rural Services category for the impressive work to redesign our dermatology service.

A redesign of the service was prompted by the retiral of the consultant dermatologist. A national shortage in dermatologists meant that the service could no longer be provided in the way it had historically been delivered. This was seen as an opportunity to transform the service, reduce patient travel, improve waiting times and reduce or eliminate the number of patients breaching national waiting targets for appointments. Local staff therefore turned the old service model on its head, providing a more resilient local service, with one expert point of contact.

The solution was the creation of a nurse-led service, with remote access as required to a consultant off-island. Angela Woodley, the Dermatology Nurse, now assesses all the referrals and arranges appointments with either herself, a local GP with Special Interest, or with a Dermatologist (by remote access, via video conference (VC)).

Angela commented: “Patients are very happy with the redesigned service, having one point of contact, so they know who to call if advice is needed. Waiting times have significantly improved, far fewer patients have to travel to the mainland and we can now do biopsies and minor operations here too.”

The Local TEC team has also been shortlisted in the Digital Impact category for all the various TEC strands the team has developed over the past three years to transform the way care is delivered to patients. From humble beginnings with a part time Florence Co-ordinator four years ago, to a small full-time team of two, TEC has changed the way healthcare is delivered using Florence, remote diagnostics, VC and robotics.

NHS Western Isles TEC Project Manager, Iain Trayner, said: “We’re really pleased to be nominated as finalists again.  It’s a huge achievement for our small Board.  We’ve been one of the most successful TEC teams in Scotland and I think we’re probably the smallest as well!  I’m really pleased too that Angela has been recognised for her readiness to embrace TEC solutions, none of this incredible service transformation would have been possible without her.”

NHS Western Isles TEC Project Officer, Elizabeth Fowler, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been shortlisted in two categories – it really is a huge achievement, especially for a small remote and rural Board. We’ve worked so hard to promote and embed our TEC solutions; we’ve seen that it makes a huge difference to our patients and we owe all of our NHS Western Isles colleagues a huge vote of thanks for supporting us along the way.”

Also shortlisted this year in the Empowering Children and Young People category is the NHS Western Isles Speech and Language Therapy team for the Gaelic (STaG) Digital Resource. The Speech and Language Therapy Department developed the digital resource Speech Therapy and Gaelic (STaG) to assist children with speech sound difficulties who use Gaelic as their first or preferred language.

This first-of-its-kind and unique resource is ideal for children whose speech is hard to understand due to difficulties producing speech sounds. Having clear, intelligible speech underpins the achievement of educational potential and supports good mental health and wellbeing. While there are plenty of motivating and easily accessible resources for listening and practising speech sounds in English, this was not the case with Gaelic. STaG consists of an interactive website and a digital app with games and flashcards, as well as downloadable and printable worksheets. STaG is also suitable to support general sound and language development and for use within Gaelic Medium Education throughout Scotland.

NHS Western Isles Speech and Language Therapy Manager, Christine Lapsley, said: “We are delighted that people have recognised the value of this app, and that it has been shortlisted. Hopefully it will highlight the significance and importance of this resource, which is not just being used locally, but by a number of Gaelic establishments and by people learning Gaelic.”

The Awards Ceremony will be held in Edinburgh on 25 February.