David Beckham brings joy to young cancer patients
27 November 2022
Publish date: 26 August 2022
Between April 2021 and March 2022, 40% of UCLH outpatient appointments took place virtually - a total of 484,872 appointments – the highest in England. Based on an average journey, this saved 13 million miles of patient travel, reducing local traffic pollution and congestion, and saving over 1,300 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
Patients have still been able to see a clinician when they have not been able to travel and clinicians have been able to run clinics from home, even when self-isolating during the pandemic.
One area that has embraced virtual appointments is the paediatric psychology department at University College Hospital. It offers a service for young people who are living with a chronic or acute health condition, such as diabetes, chronic fatigue or cancer. The team works with children, young people and their families to help them to navigate their relationship with their health condition.
Prior to 2020, the team were seeing a lot of young people and families in person on a one-to-one basis and running a number of in-person groups. However, the service changed very quickly once the pandemic hit. As well as dealing with their illnesses, these children and young people were experiencing added isolation and other challenges, meaning that the psychological services became even more vital.
The paediatric psychology team responded by setting up video clinics, for patients, parents, families and peers. They employed a lot of creative ways of working: being playful where possible, using whiteboards and emojis online and sending out packs in the post before a group session, which might include play dough or craft activities to do together. Although there are circumstances where seeing patients face-to-face is important (something the team still offers) the virtual service has been well received.
20 year old Bella Matthews is one patient who has benefited from the change. When she was 15 years old, Bella was diagnosed with a round cell sarcoma, and was treated by the team at University College Hospital due to the specialised nature of her condition. She is now in remission, but still accesses UCLH’s psychology service.
“I have been having my appointments virtually for about a year now, both with my personal psychologist and also in virtual groups with other young people who have gone through cancer.
“I'm studying paediatric nursing in Bristol at the moment and I'm on placement for half of the year, so if I had to come down to London multiple times for appointments, life would be much more stressful.
“If I didn't have the online aspect, I just wouldn't be able to use the service any more. It's also the cost of getting to London every three weeks. It’s also lovely to speak to people while in my own home where I'm very comfortable.
“The video clinic service means I have been able to meet and make friends with people that I would have never been able to speak to before, which has been amazing. I actually met somebody through the sessions who also goes to the same university as me. We have since met up in person and become great friends.
“As well as the personal benefits, climate change is massively important to me. So these virtual appointments also don’t make me feel guilty about the travel miles. I just press a button and I’m there.”
Patients can now use MyCare UCLH, our patient portal, to join most individual video clinics. With MyCare, patients can check their appointment details, receive reminders, and view their clinic letters online or on a mobile device. Before each appointment, patients will receive a reminder through MyCare and have the option to request to update some of their health information such as medication, allergies, and any new health issues.
For details see: Using MyCare UCLH for video clinics
If you’re a patient and need help with MyCare UCLH, please email the MyCare Helpdesk at
If you need some technical support with a test call before a video clinic, our volunteer Tech Buddies are here to help. Please email them at uclh.
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