This public engagement exercise and the development of the Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) would not have been possible without the co-operation and advice of many colleagues, members of the public and partner organisations. The unique circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic posed some challenges to reach out to various audiences and required a high degree of co-operation. We are grateful for the advice from the Consultation Institute, Health Care Improvement Scotland (Engagement) and Care Opinion.
The EQIA was co-produced with 10 organisations, who are named in Appendix 2 of this report, and culminated with the publication of the first National EQIA for Near Me on 1st September 2020. We also acknowledge the work carried out by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Grampian.
Colleagues from Scottish Government and the TEC programme helped to ensure that communications were joined up across the range of relevant portfolios. We also contacted over 300 organisations and invited them to feedback to the public engagement and a good number did. We would like to thank everyone who helped us to reach out.
The various organisations identified in the report, who carried out feedback with their own service users and staff, have added to the richness of the findings including important nuances around the benefits and barriers. We warmly welcome their contribution and ongoing support. The Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities also prepared an easy read version of the public engagement survey and the British Deaf Association prepared a British Sign Language version of the survey. This is part of the commitment to ongoing engagement most notably with those who are not online or seldom online.
Local NHS board Near Me leads, communication colleagues and others across all NHS board areas helped to raise the profile of the public engagement. NHS Education for Scotland facilitated various webinars throughout July and August at which the engagement exercise was publicised. We also thank them for providing a webinar on 17 September 2020 at which this outcome report will be launched. Work to scale up Near Me was supported by Health Improvement Scotland, Care Inspectorate and Scottish Access Collaborative.
We have also been working closely with several health professional bodies to fully consider how the use of Near Me can be successfully used as an additional way an appointment can be offered. We welcome the endorsement of the recent update of the primary care guidance by the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, and of the guidance for pharmacy by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Community Pharmacy Scotland.
Finally, to the 5,400 who responded to the online surveys, took part in other feedback sessions or who wrote or phoned to offer their views we applaud you. The amount of feedback received has far exceeded any reasonable expectations, and in doing so, has provided us with a very happy 'problem' of analysing such a rich data set.
Our heartfelt thanks, therefore, also go to Dr Joe Wherton, Professor Trish Greenhalgh, and colleagues at Oxford University. They have kindly agreed to further analyse the data, as part of the wider national evaluation, they are currently undertaking on the scale up of Near Me, commissioned by the Scottish Government.
Our approach has been to respect to all views with the sole intention of trying to improve care and services. It is therefore perhaps timely to close with a simple quote received from the National Carers Organisation:
"This is all about the people not the technology."
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