Drive-through clinics
The Paediatric Diabetic Team’s innovative drive-through clinic

NHS Forth Valley logo

To reduce the need for parents and children to come into hospital and prevent risk of infection, Healthcare Improvement Scotland heard from NHS Forth Valley, whose paediatric diabetic team created a new clinic appointment system outdoors. The team wanted to ensure they could still see children during COVID-19, and create a standardised procedure to help facilitate this process. They replaced their outpatient clinic, where diabetic children would previously have had their HBA1C checked, with a new process, all done from the safety of the family car. Whilst staff wear PPE outside the car, the child stays seated inside with their parent/guardian, protecting both staff and patient. This innovative way of delivering essential care through a car window has been well received both by patients and staff.

Prior to the appointment, staff contacted the families to ensure they were aware of the new clinic process, and to alleviate any concerns regarding the changes. Additionally, this telephone call ensured those families without cars (or family members with access to a vehicle) could schedule face-to-face appointments. These details were then kept on file to ease future appointment booking. Following the drive-thru clinic, families received a call (an estimated 15 minutes later) detailing the results of the test and whether a further telephone consultation was required.

The staff also asked the parents, where possible, to provide weigh-in details for the children at the drive-thru appointment. This could help inform the post-clinic telephone consultation, providing information in addition to the HBA1C results from the drive-thru appointment. 

We are seeing drive-through clinics being used across the NHS as an alternative way to deliver care. Drive-through clinics not only protect both staff and patients, but have also resulted in reportedly less footfall inside hospitals, shorter appointment times and the freeing up of clinical time for more complex cases.

Elsewhere in the system:

  • NHS Royal Surrey launched new drive-through services for cardiac, maternity and phlebotomy appointments.
  • NHS Berkshire West are using a similar system for children vaccinations.

“Because I am pregnant, I am classed as vulnerable, so the fact that I could receive my care from the safety of my car was brilliant and put my mind at ease” - Patient at NHS Royal Surrey Maternity drive-through clinic.


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