GP surgeries in Largs, Millport and West Kilbride are ramping up their use of a ground-breaking system that allows clinicians to consult with patients remotely.

Developed and tested in 2018 and 2019, the Near Me video consulting service was initially used mainly in the Highlands, where distances can be an issue, but the system has now been rolled out earlier than planned as a result of the Covid19 crisis.

It means people can receive urgent health care and advice remotely from the safety of their own home. It’s also possible for GPs and other clinicians to use it from their home if they are at high risk of infection.

The online system provides quick and easy access to health services without the need to travel is vital for patients, especially if they are self-isolating because of coronavirus.

Near Me works exactly like a face-to-face meeting except that patients do not need to travel to see a GP.

The Scottish Government has been working to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet the growing demand for Near Me and is assuring patients and carers that it is an appropriate, effective and secure means of conducting remote consultations.

Remote consultations are being carried out in the first instance by telephone but Near Me is used if a video link is felt to be more appropriate.

A total of 819 video consultations using Near Me were carried out between 16th March and 16th April in Ayrshire.

The board’s medical director, Dr Crawford McGuffie, said: “This is an unprecedented time and we have seen rapid changes to the way we deliver our health services within a short period of time. On many occasions during the Covid-19 pandemic, video appointments have proved invaluable to patients across Ayrshire and Arran.

“I'd like to pay tribute to staff across NHS Ayrshire and Arran, for their adaptability and resilience, utilising this technology to help us provide care. Likewise, people have embraced this change, provided supportive feedback, and continue to work with us to further improve this new way of working."

To use the system patients are given a link to a Near Me clinic and can start their video call from this link.