Cameron announces his £52m fund for practices

Somercotes Medical Centre, Nottingham Road, Somercotes.

Somercotes Medical Centre, Nottingham Road, Somercotes.

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Patients in Ripley and Heanor could soon be talking to their doctor over the internet after a health provider secured almost £250k to help modernise GP practices.

NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has secured £248,000 in funding to launch an innovative 12-month project which could see patients having virtual consultations online, and email updates.

The new consultations would allow doctors to make observations without the patient physically attending the practice and would be invaluable to housebound patients, health chiefs said.

Somercotes Medical Centre is set to trial the online consultations, as part of a project funded by the £50m Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

A spokesperson for the practice said: “We realise that the majority of our patients like to attend the surgery but for some this isn’t always possible and a video consultation may be more appropriate for their circumstances. We hope this trial will prove beneficial for those patients.

The CCG is also looking at how GP websites can benefit patients further with features such as online consultations, an icon created for smartphones, special podcasts and a widget that emails out newsletters to patients.

Dr Sheila Newport, chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:“Patients are at the heart of everything we do.

“We are delighted to have secured the funding from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

“The pilot scheme is about embracing the latest technology to promote innovation and patient empowerment.”