Thousands of people are now booking GP appointments online after the service was rolled out rapidly in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Every general practice in Lancashire can now offer patients video consultations, after a programme to introduce the technology was accelerated.

A number of practices were already offering video calls before the pandemic hit the county, but the technology has since been rapidly rolled out.

In February, before the outbreak took hold, just 168 online appointments had taken place, but in April the service skyrocketed with over 11,000 consultations booked.

Declan Hadley, digital lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS), said: “As many people are becoming more confident with using video calls to chat with friends and family, this service has really taken off in primary care too.

“The number of video appointments has risen each month since the social distancing guidelines. Across Lancashire and South Cumbria, this has grown from 168 in February to 3,988 in March and up to 11,410 in April.

“Safe and secure video consultations are an important way for the NHS to ensure that it is still there for the people that need it during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The many benefits for patients in terms of convenience and reduced travel that mean video consultations will continue to be there as an option for them in the future too.”

The group says the technology has helped patients to continue to access general practice services remotely while they are social distancing, but face-to-face appointments are still available.

People are being encouraged to download the MyGP app to enable secure video consultations with their practice.

Patients can use the mobile number that their GP practice has recorded for them to access the video consultations, as well as book or cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions, manage medicine alerts and track their health.