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The Trust

  • Patron: HRH The Princess Royal
  • Name of Trust: The Swinfen Charitable Trust, Dene House, Wingham, Canterbury, Kent, CT3 1NU
  • Registered Charity Number: 1077879
  • Website: www.swinfencharitabletrust.org
  • E-mail: telemed@swinfentrust.org
  • Telephone: 01227 721001

Trust Overview

The Swinfen Charitable Trust is a UK registered charity (1077879) founded in 1998 by Lord and Lady Swinfen with the aim of assisting poor, sick and disabled people across the world. This assistance is delivered by a secure telemedicine link over the internet to offer advice from consultants, expert in their field, to referring doctors or health care professionals (referrers) in the developing world and remote, isolated communities. We currently have over 366 links to hospitals and clinics in 78 countries and over 700 consultants (specialists) providing their time and expertise free of charge.

How The System Works

Modus Operandi

The specialists providing advice to referrers are consultants pre-eminent in their own field, registered with the relevant Royal College or national equivalent. The Trust requires a personal recommendation, normally from a current Trust specialist, and will, having checked with the appropriate body make an approach to the consultant to join the Trust's specialists. The Trust maintains a panel of more than 650 specialists in a wide range of medical disciplines.

A potential referrer (health professional) must first apply for a Swinfen Telemedical link for the hospital, medical centre or health post at which they are working. Details are at Annex A to Section 1. Apply To Join.

The referral system relies on the doctor or health care professional (referrer) in the remote hospital having a Swinfen Telemedical link from a PC, laptop and a digital camera, tablet or smartphone via an Internet connection to the Trust's secure server.

The doctor prepares a message giving the patient's symptoms/condition, the findings on examination and any other relevant information. This may be accompanied by photos of x-ray films or clinical images that may help the specialist in offering advice and guidance on diagnosis and treatment. Advice for referrers on submitting a case is available at Annex B to Section 1.

The case details are then uploaded to the secure server with a request for specialist advice. The system notifies the system operators on duty who allocate the patient referral to an appropriate specialist(s) and automatically generates an email case receipt for the referrer. If the case is urgent or complex the system operators will allocate the case to more than one specialist in one or more disciplines.

The specialist replies with appropriate advice, on the secure server which automatically generates an email to the referrer, notifying that a "case reply is available for viewing". The referrer and specialist may well have further dialogue concerning the case through the secure server until the case reaches a conclusion. Additional advice is available at Annex B to Section 1.

The system protects patient confidentiality and archives all correspondence. Cases are held on a separate secure server which has restricted access and is not available to the general public. Referrers and specialists can only access their allocated cases and do not have access to other cases on the system.

The median length of time between receipt of the original message and first reply by the specialist consultant is 1.4 days, although many cases are dealt with more quickly.


The Trust - Swinfen Charitable Trust

Legal Disclaimer

The specialists agree, in writing, with the Trust and via the Trust, the medical workers:

(a) to undertake appropriate engagements facilitated by the Trust; and
(b) to take responsibility, within their own jurisdictions, for their compliance with their own regulatory obligations and for their own professional indemnity cover, in relation to providing telemedicine assistance.

The medical workers agree, in writing, with the Trust and via the Trust, the specialists, that they:

(a) will receive the specialist assistance on the basis that they will make their own professional judgements about accepting the facilitated assistance and the medical action to be taken, in the particular local conditions and legal environment and not place any formal reliance on the specialist assistance;
(b) take responsibility for their compliance with their regulatory obligations and professional indemnity cover within their own jurisdictions, including in relation to receiving telemedicine assistance in this way;
(c) recognise the limitations inherent in the remote transmission of such assistance.

The patients agree, in writing (as far as possible) to accept treatment from the medical workers operating on the above basis, recognising they are not receiving medical care from the specialists and the limitations inherent in the remote transmission of such assistance.

The specialists, medical workers and patients agree, in writing, that the Trust is acting as a facilitating intermediary and not as a provider of any medical advice, assistance, or medical referral services.

The Swinfen Charitable Trust - Annex A to Section 1

Telemedicine Link Request

Links can be made to either an individual or local hospital, medical centre or health post. If the latter the doctor or health professional initially receiving the link is requested to hand over the link and give training to their successor, or new incumbent.

This detail is required before a Link can be offered

  1. Name of hospital, medical centre or health post.
  2. Postal address of hospital, medical centre or health post.
  3. Country.
  4. International Telephone Numbers.
  5. Name of Hospital Director.
  6. Named Clinician to be responsible for telemedicine referrals and the Swinfen Charitable Trust equipment.
  7. Email address(es) for the clinician who will be using the telemedicine link.
  8. Type of hospital (Teaching, Specialist, Local, Community etc)
  9. Specialist services available on site.
  10. What arrangements are made for the treatment of those patients who are unable to pay?
  11. Will the hospital undertake to advise the Consultant answering referrals as to the outcome of each case?
  12. How many doctors/ nurses and other trained medical staff are there, and how many beds?
  13. What type of diagnostic equipment is available?
  14. What is the availability of up to date drugs?
  15. Please attach a recent JPG photograph of your Hospital, Medical Centre or Health Post.

To apply for a Telemedicine Link please email us, with the above information, at telemed@swinfentrust.org

To download a Swinfen Telemedicine Mobile App:

The Swinfen Charitable Trust - Annex B to Section 1

Advice For Referrers

After an application for a Swinfen Charitable Trust Telemedicine link has been approved, and before a referrer sends the first case, an email address is required for the referring health care professional. This is the address that the system uses to automatically notify the receipt of the case and that a specialist's response has been received.

  1. For new cases follow these steps:
    • Log into the secure system and click on "Create a new referral"
    • Type in the relevant patient details. You can safely identify the patient by name, as the system is secure and can only be accessed by the specialists concerned in the case and by the Trust's administrators.
    • Attach any clinical images (keep them to a reasonable) - these will normally be JPEG files. DO NOT upload ZIP files because not all specialists can access them.
    • Log out of the system. You will receive a system generated email acknowledging receipt of the case with a case number.
    • Within 48 hours, you will usually receive another email notifying you that the specialist has replied. You can then log in to the system again, and read the response.

    Note that the specialist's advice is to the referrer, NOT the patient.

  2. For further questions about cases in progress or replies to specialists:
    • Log into the system and click on "List my cases".
    • Select the relevant case by clicking on the case number.
    • Click on the link at the bottom right of screen "Read all messages".
    • After reading the messages, click on the link "Respond" at the bottom of the screen. Type your reply to the specialist into the box labelled "Your response".
    • Log out of the system and await an email to let you know that there is a response.

    PLEASE advise the Specialist of the outcome of your case.

For additional information about us contact us or call us on 01227 721001.

Contact Details

01227 721001


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