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Rapid implementation of virtual clinics due to COVID-19: report and early evaluation of a quality improvement initiative
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  • Published on:
    Managing a community eating disorder service with virtual clinics during Covid 19
    • Victoria Chapman, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
    • Other Contributors:
      • Teizeem Dhanji, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
      • Tara Porter, Clinical Psychologist
      • Teresa Pacchiega, Family Therapist
      • Rahul Chodhari, Consultant Paediatrician
      • Samantha Swinglehurst, Lead Nurse

    We read with interest the RNOH report regarding rapid implementation of virtual clinics due to Covid-19 (Gilbert et al, BMJ Open, 21 May 2020). The Royal Free Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Service (RF-EDS) has similarly been required to adapt the service rapidly during the Covid-19 crisis, such that 95% of our patients have been treated by telephone or videoconferencing.

    The clinical needs of our patients to receive evidence-based treatment, needed to be balanced with the risks of Covid infection. Eating disorders have the highest mortality of all psychiatric disorders and early treatment has been shown to improve outcomes. Treatment is usually outpatient care with a minority requiring short hospital admissions for medical stabilisation. The RF-EDS has a day service, which has managed higher risk patients in the community as paediatric wards in North Central London have closed/relocated during the pandemic.

    Since the pandemic, all routine treatment to current patients has been via video or telephone, with high-risk patients continuing face-to-face care (socially distanced or with PPE). This can be stepped-up to prevent hospital admission. Meal support, a weekly parent support group and drop-in clinic have been set up to run via videoconference.

    From 23/03/20 to 01/05/20, the number of new referrals to the service was similar to the same period in 2019 (19). The number of outpatient contacts was 731 and 96% of these were treated in virtual cli...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.