Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Accredited Assessors COVID-19 guidance

The use of video conferencing platforms

We are supporting the use of video conferencing for interviews during this period of time. Equally, if transplant centres feel they can safely facilitate face to face interviews in line with Government guidance, then that is a decision for them to make. If you have any concerns about conducting face to face interviews you should discuss these with the transplant centre and of course only undertake interviews in an environment in which you are comfortable and feel safe. Now that we have a clearer idea on the situation and the length of time these measures may need to be in place, we do not feel that telephone interviews alone are sufficient.

We understand that there may be some anxieties about using video conferencing technology. This may present challenges, but we hope there are ways of overcoming these. Body language plays an important role and so whilst you may not be able to conduct face to face interviews, we hope that by seeing the people you are interviewing this will go some way in helping to provide some reassurance.

The decision as to which video platform to use will need to be decided in discussion with the transplant centre. Some factors you may wish to consider are:

Liaising with the bone marrow / PBSC transplant centre

The video conferencing facility that is used must be supported by local hospital protocol and security. Please discuss the practicalities with the transplant centre as they may have a preferred or existing local platform that they will need you to use.  

Logistics

Logistics such as how to access the video platform will need to be agreed with transplant centres. You will need to agree account details and the use of personal equipment where applicable.  

The parents of any children you are interviewing will need to have access to the video platform that is agreed. This is something we will communicate to Stem Cell Coordinators / Specialist Nurses as they will need to communicate details to those concerned prior to the interview.

Identity and relationship and joint interviews

Please continue to confirm the relationship between the donor, recipient and person consenting on behalf of the donor.  You can confirm identity in the usual way by asking to see the relevant ID and noting this in your report. We suggest that you ask for the documents to be held up to the camera so they can be seen clearly. Alternatively, the Stem Cell Coordinators / Specialist Nurses could securely email a scanned copy of the relevant documents to you prior to the interview.

As usual, you will need to interview the donor and recipient separately and together where possible and of course, the person consenting. We suggest when conducting separate interviews with the donor and recipient and person consenting, you make it clear there is an expectation that you will need to speak to each person alone (where appropriate) and that you explicitly seek assurance that the individual is alone in the room and document in your report that you received that reassurance. Alternatively, where the individual is comfortable to do so they may show you the room to demonstrate that they are alone.

Where the donor and recipient do not live in the same household, we understand this may bring its own set of challenges. We advise using a platform that allows for more than one participant where possible to allow for a joint interview. This would allow both participants on the call to see each other and for you to observe body language.

Young or poorly recipients that cannot be interviewed

In instances where the donor or recipient is too young (or pre-verbal) to be interviewed, or the recipient is too ill to be interviewed, please follow the same guidelines in place for face to face interviews. Where you have been unable to interview a recipient please clearly document the reasons for this in your report as you normally would.

COVID-19 risks

It is important that patients are aware of any additional risks relating to COVID-19, therefore we kindly ask you to address this during your interviews for the foreseeable future, clearly documenting the discussion that was had within your report. We will be asking transplant centres to make reference to this within referral letters.

We will publish this guidance on the HTA website shortly. We understand there will be ongoing questions about the changes we have outlined above however please be assured that we are here to support you. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the team on transplants@hta.gov.uk.

Audience: 
Last updated on: 22 May 2020