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Medical students trained in ‘three-way’ online consultations

A medical school has become the first in the country to train all its medical students on how to hold real-time consultations with patients.

All of the 176 first-year students on Leicester University’s medical degree course will receive online consultation training, including three-way consultations with a hospital specialist.

The move comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that nine trial areas looking at extending access to GPs in the evening and at weekends would also test out a variety of ‘forward-thinking services’ for patients, such as greater use of Skype, email and phone consultations to further boost access to GPs through a £50m ‘challenge fund’.

Leicester University medical school senior fellow and lead for innovation Dr Ron Hsu said that technologies that enable online consultations would be increasingly used and that they saw it as an essential part of medical training.

He said: ‘GPs and specialists alike are going to need to know how to communicate and interact with patients using these technologies. Our hope is that by putting online consultation early in our undergraduate teaching, we will not only prepare our students for the future but help them improve the level of care they provide patients.’