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NHS Near Me: getting our Q Exchange project started

Co-designing the use of NHS Near Me at home was one of the ideas to win Q Exchange funding in Autumn 2018. In this blog, the team explain what they will be doing over the next few months and what's happened so far

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The NHS Near Me team is delighted to have received Q exchange funding for the next stage of the service’s development. The funding enables a collaboration between NHS Highland and the University of the Highlands and Islands to co-design NHS Near Me at home with patients.

Why NHS Near Me?

Through NHS Near Me, patients can attend outpatient appointments remotely by video consultation. It was developed in response to patient demand: thousands of patients travel from across the Scottish Highlands to attend appointments in a central hospital in Inverness. These journeys frequently take patients several hours each way, and much longer for patients coming from islands. The aim of NHS Near Me is to deliver care closer to home to avoid this travel whenever clinically possible.

Step one was to create an NHS Near Me video consulting service delivered at local clinics, such as rural hospitals. The next step is to enable patients to use NHS Near Me from home: this is what the Q exchange funding will help achieve.

Why co-design?

Clare Morrison, NHS Near Me Lead in NHS Highland, explained: “We learnt so much from patients in the early development of NHS Near Me, so we knew that co-designing the service was essential. What we will do with the Q exchange funding is to work intensively with patients before, during and after the introduction of NHS Near Me at home so we can be sure that it meets patients’ needs.”

What’s happened so far?

The NHS Near Me team picked Skye as the site for the Q exchange project. They have already held two public events in order to engage members of the public and to recruit some to become members of a focus group. The first focus group workshop will be held in January in Skye.

Dr Michelle Beattie, Lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands and Academic Lead for project, said “We will use a range of participatory methods with community volunteers to devise each step in the NHS Near Me system. For example, we will use process flow mapping and small scale PDSA (plan, do study, act cycles) as well as capture qualitative data of participants experience of the co-design process. The idea is that the final process and accompanying material (i.e. patient instructions) will enable a user friendly service.”

What about the wider NHS Near Me service?

The initial phase of NHS Near Me, which has enabled patients to attend video appointments at remote clinics, has been a success. It began in January 2018 with a 6-month development phase using a structured quality improvement method, and scale up began in July 2018. Sixteen clinical specialties are currently providing NHS Near Me appointments, with a further five about to start.

“Receiving this Q exchange funding will make such a difference to getting the next stage of NHS Near Me right for patients,” Clare added. “The whole experience of making the Q exchange bid, receiving suggestions from Q members, and then the pitching the idea at the Q event in Birmingham has been fantastic. We have learnt so much from other Q members already, and we have only just got started.”

Can you help?

The team would be delighted to hear from Q members who have expertise on addressing internet connectivity issues, supporting patients to use technology at home or how to maximise the learning from co-design with patients. All feedback is welcome too, please contact


  1. Great to read this blog Clare and to see the emphasis you have on co-designing with those who will be using the service. I know I would prefer to engage with the health system virtually if I didn't need a face to face so good to see this progressing into the option to call in virtually from home. It is also good to see QI being used to support the role out of new digital approaches.

    I'm not sure if you are connected in to our service design work in the ihub which has included supporting services to apply the experience based co-design approach. We are also connected into the Scottish Approach to Service Design work which has a big emphasis on user research to inform service design. Let me know if you want me to connect you across. Ruth

  2. That sounds really interesting Ruth, a connection would be great if possible - many thanks

  3. Congratulations Clare - new to the Qcommunity so great to see a familiar face and doing some great work connecting across the community

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