DIGITAL technology has played a key role in helping people access their GP during the coronavirus crisis.

New figures show that in April – the first full month after lockdown began – 13,781 online consultations took place across the area covered by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, which includes Bradford district and Craven.

Nearly 95 per cent of GP practices are offering online consultation services.

The partnership said meeting ever-increasing demand had been “a huge challenge”, but that by embracing technology healthcare organisations had helped keep people safe.

Cindy Fedell, the partnership’s digital senior responsible officer, said: “Online consultations offer people a quick and easy way to communicate securely and safely with their GP about their health conditions.

“Whilst feedback so far has been very encouraging, we recognise that some people will still prefer to call or see their GP.

“People can go online, call their GP and if required then attend one of our sites. The online access means that when people do call, phone lines and reception staff are more likely to be free.”

Rob Webster, chief executive officer lead with the partnership, said the technology was playing an essential role.

“Using technology in this way is an important part of the care we provide,” he said.

“It complements face-to-face and telephone advice.

“Technology has the potential to empower people through secure online access to clinicians, personalised health information and advice.

“The acceleration of digital technologies comes at a crucial stage for care and we must continue to meet the needs of all those who need help.

“This follows a recent decline in people accessing health and care services for fear of catching Covid-19.

“These fears could be deterring people who have genuine need – and digital solutions give all involved the opportunity to seek advice and reassurance.

“The service benefits from no waiting times and 24/7 access to trusted health and care advice at the person’s convenience, whilst offering access to symptom-specific self-help information and other NHS and self-care services.”