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Doctors going digital

Doctors going digital

Published at 6:02am 8th February 2017. (Updated at 5:35pm 8th February 2017)

A group of North Yorkshire GPs are now offering video appointments using Skype or FaceTime.

The service is available to patients registered with Springbank Health which covers villages between Knaresborough and York.

As part of a trial scheme, the video appointments will initially be with one specific GP in order to gather feedback.

Dr Richard Tatham, a partner at Springbank Health, said: "We understand that not every patient finds it easy to get to an appointment. A video appointment can often be more convenient for our busy patients, as they will be easier to fit around their other responsibilities, or for patients who have conditions that make it physically difficult to visit the surgery.

"Where appropriate, patients will be asked if they would like a Skype appointment, with the GP calling the patient at the time of the booked appointment.

"As a practice, we continually review the services we provide our patients, and given the ever-growing dependency on technology, we feel we can offer an improved patient experience by introducing video calling. For a large number of our patients, it can often be difficult to get a suitable appointment, particularly if the patient is either working, not in the area or simply unable to attend in person."

Dr Angela O'Donoghue, who is based at the Green Hammerton surgery, added: "One of the biggest concerns from our patients is that they struggle to book suitable appointment times around their daily commitments. On average, most patients visit their doctors once or twice a year, and those in full-time work often do not have time to get non-urgent symptoms checked. Patients with physical disabilities can also struggle to travel to a doctor's appointment, particularly in rural areas.

"Depending on the condition, a video appointment is far better than a phone call, as there's a certain amount of expression and movement that I as a GP can see in real time. I hope that many of our patients will see the benefits of the video appointments and try this new service. If the NHS is to meet the growing demand placed on its services, then it needs to embrace digital technology."

Patients can request a video appointment by calling the surgery on 01423 330030.