EVERY general practice in Lancashire and South Cumbria can offer patients video consultations after a programme to introduce the technology was accelerated in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A number of practices had already started to offer video calls before the outbreak and the technology has since been rapidly rolled out. Most GP practices in Lancashire and South Cumbria are now doing video consultations with patients and all have the technology to offer them in the future.

The technology helps patients to continue to access general practice services remotely while they are social distancing unless a face-to-face appointment is necessary.

Benefits of video appointments include minimising travel, supporting isolated communities and reducing the spread of infection.

Declan Hadley, Digital Lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System said: “As many people are becoming more confident with using video calls to chat with friends and family, this service has really taken off in primary care too.

“The number of video appointments has risen each month since the social distancing guidelines. Across Lancashire and South Cumbria, this has grown from 168 in February to 3,988 in March and up to 11,410 in April.

“Safe and secure video consultations are an important way for the NHS to ensure that it is still there for the people that need it during the coronavirus pandemic. The many benefits for patients in terms of convenience and reduced travel that mean video consultations will continue to be there as an option for them in the future too.”

Local people are encouraged to download the MyGP app (www.mygp.com) to enable secure video consultations with their practice. Patients must use the mobile number that their GP practice has recorded for them to access the video consultation. The app also allows patients to book or cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions, manage medicine alerts and track their health.

Dr Tim Reynard, local GP and Joint Chief Clinical Information Officer Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The roll-out of online and video consultations has meant that in a click of a button we can share follow on materials and key information to our patients during or after consultations via an app or by text.

“Video consultations have enabled nursing home residents to receive one-to-one virtual consultations with their GP without a face to face visit. This technology not only reduces the risk of infection for patients and staff it also saves significant commute time for GPs which can be used to instead treat more patients.”