GPs across County Durham want patients to use their websites to seek medical help.

Online consultations and health care advice is now available from practices across the county via their individual websites.

The new eConsult service allows patients to submit their symptoms by completing an online form and they will receive a response via telephone or email with advice or an appointment.

Patients can also use the service to be directed to self-help guides and videos, pharmacy advice, local self-referral services and NHS 111 as well as request fit notes and GP letters.

Chief officer at NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Stewart Findlay said: “In recent years we have seen a rapid development in the number of online consultation systems helping patients to access healthcare at their GP practice in a whole new way.

“Online consultations offer a quick and convenient way to access health advice without patients having to take time away from work and may prevent the need for an appointment.We know that eConsult won’t suit everyone and we are not replacing our regular telephone appointment systems, our aim is simply to offer increased choice and accessibility to as many people as possible.”

Patients can also register with their GP practice for an online account allowing them to book face-to-face appointments, order medication, access their patient record, view test results and request medication on their phone, tablet, laptop or computer, via the practice website or the NHS APP, at any time including outside of normal surgery hours.

NHS North Durham and NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Groups’ digital lead, Nicola Murray, said: “New technology allows us to offer more choice than ever before when it comes to accessing health care services at your local GP practice.

“Many patients feel more comfortable talking about their problems online rather than face to face and with 70 percent of requests dealt with without the need for an appointment, online consultations also help free up GPs and other health professionals to spend time managing patients with more complex needs.”