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Ring 999, get checked over on Skype

Using video-call technology like Skype could help diagnose patients. Credit: PA

Patients who ring 999 for an ambulance could soon be assessed via video-call technology such as Skype if their condition is deemed non life-threatening.

A trial is under way to see if face-to-face smartphone apps could allow medics to make more accurate decisions by viewing injuries.

The South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), which covers four regions in southern England, said diagnosing a patient without being able to see them can prove difficult.

It said other ambulance trusts were also testing out the idea.

Many social media apps now offer video-calling services, including Facebook and WhatsApp.

Face-to-face consultations over the telephone initially started at certain nursing homes. Credit: PA

A spokeswoman for SCAS said: "SCAS is currently trialling the use of technology to provide face-to-face consultations over the telephone, as are other ambulance trusts.

"This was initially started at certain nursing homes who were frequent callers to our service. This enables both the patient and the trained clinician within the clinical co-ordination centre (where 999 calls are received) to see each other.

"This gives the clinician more information when they are assessing the patient as they can see the patient and view the injury severity, symptoms, etc.

"The patient can see the clinician which improves the experience of the assessment they receive.

"There are some injuries or conditions that are more challenging to assess over the phone with no visual aid and this trial provides increased patient safety during a telephone assessment."