COVID-19:
Remote consultations 

Disclaimer: This resource provides information, not advice. Please read the full disclaimer at the end of this resource.

To reduce the risk of us catching or spreading COVID-19, we all need to stop spending time with people who don’t live with us, wherever possible. This also applies to mental health appointments. This means that instead of holding a face-to-face consultation, your health professional is likely to carry out a ‘remote’ consultation with you.

Your health professional will hold your appointment by talking with you on the telephone or through the internet. This way, you get almost all the benefits of a face-to-face appointment without the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

As well as having the option to have your appointment by telephone, there are several video-call options available to you, such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Microsoft Teams.

You will have a prearranged date and time for your appointment, just as with any other. It’s always a good idea to check that your technology is working in advance.

A family member, friend or carer may be able to help set you up. If not, your health professional will find a way that works best for you. They have guidance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on how to do this.

Video call is probably the best way of carrying out your remote consultation. But a telephone conversation can often work just as well, and you may prefer this.

Yes. The confidentiality rules that apply to face-to-face consultations also apply to remote consultations, meaning your information will be protected in the same way. For example, if your doctor or health professional wants to share any of the information from your consultation more widely, they will need your consent to do this.

Your health professional also has a responsibility to make sure that the technology they use for your consultation is secure.

If you wish, you can ask someone to support you during your consultation, so that you feel more comfortable. You may also want that person to be involved in the consultation. For example, they may be able to provide more information, with your consent.

During the consultation, make sure that you are in a place where only the person or people you want involved can see or hear the conversation. If you are on a video call, try to avoid showing any sensitive or personal details in the background. You may also want to close the door to avoid any interruptions or distractions.

If you lose contact with your health professional during your remote consultation, try not to worry. This happens quite often but usually only for a short time. You can just wait for them to contact you again or ring them to find out what is happening.

You may find that, even when the technology is working, it is difficult to communicate with your health professional. If you cannot hear them clearly, just let them know so that they can speak more slowly, clearly or loudly, or adjust their microphone. Earphones or a headset can sometimes help you to hear better.

As with a face-to-face meeting, try to relax and tell your health professional as much as possible about what has been happening. This will help them to get a clearer idea of your concerns and how to help you.

If there is anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed, such as how to use the technology or lack of privacy in your room, tell your health professional immediately so they can help find a better way for you to talk to each other. If you have chosen to have a member of your family, friend or other carer with you, they can help you get the most out of the consultation.

If your health professional thinks that a remote consultation is not going to work for you, they will discuss with you the best way to get the care and support you need. This may mean having a face-to-face consultation, although you would both need to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your health professional will be able to advise on the best way to do this.

Disclaimer

This resource provides information, not advice.  

The content in this resource is provided for general information only. It is not intended to, and does not, amount to advice which you should rely on. It is not in any way an alternative to specific advice.  You must therefore obtain the relevant professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the information in this resource.

If you have questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider without delay.  

If you think you are experiencing any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or other professional healthcare provider.  

Although we make reasonable efforts to compile accurate information in our resources and to update the information in our resources, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in this resource is accurate, complete or up to date.