A MAJOR change affecting all patients registered at GP surgeries across Herefordshire has been announced.

All patients now have access to an innovative new service called Herefordshire Remote Health (HRH), GP federation Taurus Healthcare said 

It said HRH provides telephone and video consultations for patients who need care on the same day and who feel a remote consultation will meet their needs.

Calls are made by skilled NHS staff, such as GPs, advanced nurse practitioners and physician associates, who "helicopter" between practices to speak to patients, as agreed by the patients and requested by their surgeries.

The staff have full access to patients’ medical details and consultations are recorded in the patients’ usual records.

Initially set up as a pilot last year with just three Herefordshire surgeries taking part, the service is now available from all 19 surgeries in the Taurus Healthcare GP Federation.

More than 27,000 appointments have so far been offered to patients.

In fewer than eight per cent of cases, the professional has felt that the patient needed a face-to-face appointment and this has been facilitated with their practice, Taurus Healthcare said.

A spokesperson said the HRH service enables practices to focus their capacity on face-to-face appointments and to provide continuity of care where this is most needed and it is an example of the innovative way Herefordshire General Practice is working together to continually improve access for patients.

HRH has been commissioned by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Integrated Care Board.

Lynda Dando, director of primary care and delegated commissioning for NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: “This initiative is fantastic news for patients in the county and we are pleased to be able to support Herefordshire General Practice in establishing the pilot and expanding the scheme across all practices.

“The scheme is averaging 192 appointments each day and is really benefiting those who do not require a face-to-face appointment but still need to be assessed or treated on the same day.

“Twenty-eight clinical professionals currently work within the scheme and 19 of these are new to the county, so not only is it proving to be welcomed by patients but is also supporting efforts to maintain and strengthen the general practice workforce.”

Seventy-five per cent of patients surveyed said they were either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the service they had received.

Dr Lauren Parry, GP and medical director at Taurus Healthcare, said:: “We are very proud of the HRH service which offers healthcare professionals a flexible way of working. This has attracted a high calibre workforce, looking for a different way of working, enabling them to remain in the NHS.”

Alongside traditional daytime surgery-led appointments (face-to-face and remote), patients can also access evening or weekend appointments at nine hubs throughout the county, all of which are bookable via their GP surgery.