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GPs to offer ‘virtual appointments’ to patients

GPs in Wales will offer virtual appointments to patients as a part of a five-year IT strategy launched by the devolved health administration.

The Welsh Government said allowing patients to have consultations by email or video conference would reduce costs and delays.

It also said NHS staff should be supplied with smartphones and tablets to access data and care records swiftly – although a Welsh Government spokesperson said it would be up to individual health boards to fund this.

Under the five-year plan, patients will be able to order prescriptions, book appointments, and access health records and test results online, giving patients an active role in managing their health, said the Government.

Patients will also be encouraged to use smartphone apps to monitor health conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

Dr Ruth Hussey, chief medical officer for Wales said: ‘Digital technology can provide information for patients in accessible ways, help to ensure effective monitoring of treatment, and make services easier to use. The strategy sets out a clear ambition to improve the use of technology and data.’

Health minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘Our vision is for more interactive, personalised health and social services, allowing people to access services wherever and whenever it’s convenient to them.

‘Frontline staff who work in our health and care services must also have access to the very latest digital technology, which allows them to deliver services in new, innovative ways that put the needs of patients first.’