A REVOLUTIONARY health care service, which could reduce the pressure on GPs and hospitals, is being piloted in Sedgefield borough.

Sedgefield Borough Council, in partnership with Yorkshire-based company Tunstall, has launched the Community Telemedicine scheme, which enables vulnerable patients to monitor their health at home.

Community Telemedicine is a simple to use system that accurately measures blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, oxygen saturation and temperature.

The measurements are taken by the patient and then transmitted via a normal telephone line in the home to a monitoring centre where their unique patient record is stored.

Sedgefield is the first local authority in the UK to offer this service, which can remove the need for long stays in hospital. The council will act as the service provider with various subscribers, including hospitals, GPs and clinics, paying daily rates for equipment hire, monitoring and administration.

Tunstall, which has pioneered the technology, will supply the council's monitoring equipment and support services.

Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the innovative service at Cleves Cross Grange, Ferryhill, during a visit to his constituency at the weekend.