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Online Video Consultations Promised

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7:15am 14th April 2014
(Updated 7:15am 14th April 2014)

Some patients in Cornwall are going to be able to Skype their GP.

The online video consultation is part of a pilot project, aimed at making it easier to see the family doctor.

Plans have been revealed in Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly for urgent treatment centres, which should also help take the pressure off struggling A&E departments.

More than 7.5 million people across the UK will have increased access to GP services as part of the £50m GP Access Fund, including late night and weekend appointments.

The plan will see extended surgery opening hours, as well as new consultation methods including video and email.

The fund will benefit patients at 1,147 GP practices across England.

The Prime Minister has also announced plans to enhance care services for the elderly.

He said some 800,000 people over the age of 75 and those with serious health complaints will receive tailored care, coordinated by one local GP.

"Back in October, I said I wanted to make it easier for people to get appointments that fit in around a busy working week and family commitments," Mr Cameron said.

"There has been a great response from doctors, with lots of innovative ideas, and we will now see over seven million patients given weekend and evening opening hours, alongside more access to their family doctor on the phone, via email or even Skype.

"This is an important step and good news for patients."

Around 500,000 people were originally thought to benefit from the cash fund, but due to high levels of interest it has been rolled out to cover more GP services, a Department of Health spokesman said.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Sky News: "The evidence I think is that for people who working hard, who have busy lifestyles, maybe working long hours, doing shift work over the weekends, often they would like to be able to contact their GP by email, and if we can find a way that doesn't overwhelm GPs, then I think that would be something that people would really welcome.

"We do recognise that GPs and nurses in the community work extremely hard.

"But I think it's a false economy if we don't invest in out-of-hospital care - because in the end if you don't look after people well when they're at home, they end up having to go to hospital and that ends up being worse for them and costing the NHS more as well."

7:15am 14th April 2014

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