MORE than 40,000 patients are already making ‘virtual visits’ to their doctor as online consultations are rolled out in Trafford GP practices.

Patients at Boundary House Medical Centre in Sale have been accessing the online system since October, enabling more patients to be ‘seen’ by their GP more quickly and reducing the need for patients travel to the practice for face-to-face appointments.

St Johns Medical Practice in Altrincham introduced the online consultation service at the start of January and Flixton Road Medical Centre's 10,700 patients have been using the service since last week.

Already across all three practices more than 70 per cent of patients are contacting their GPs via the online system rather than facing long telephone queues.

And with more patients being treated via the online system, GPs are able to dedicate face-to-face appointment time to vulnerable patients with complex needs.

Accessed via the GP practice website, patients outline their symptoms online to their doctor and have the ability to upload images, perhaps a rash which may be of concern. The information enables GPs to then prioritise patient needs and respond via message, telephone or by allocating face-to-face appointments.

Sale’s Boundary House Medical Centre was the first Trafford practice to pilot the service.

Dr Paul Jackson, GP Partner at Boundary House, said patients were able to be treated more effectively.

He said: “Online consultation makes GP access easier for patients by providing another channel for efficient healthcare. Using the website, patients tell us their symptoms at a time which suits them and how they would prefer to be contacted by us – via SMS or telephone for example. It provides patients with a welcome alternative to long telephone queues – especially at 8am on a Monday - when trying to contact a GP.”

Across Trafford, other GP practices are also planning to roll-out the service to their patients in the near future.