Four in five patients using a virtual service offered by health chiefs to assess their condition are opting for a consultation via video, rather than over the phone, latest figures show.

The virtual A&E platform provided by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) enables people to seek help with issues such as a minor head injury, back pain or burns without having to go to hospital.

It offers a direct video or telephone consultation with an emergency care practitioner, allowing medical assessment, advice and ongoing treatment when necessary.

A new report issued by NHSGGC shows that, over the past four months, more than 80% of patients using the service chose a video consultation ahead of being assessed over the phone.

Those who opt for a video consultation tend to receive faster treatment decisions, as clinicians can provide a visual assessment as well as speaking to the patient.

Dr Scott Davidson, deputy medical director for acute service at NHSGGC, said: “For many patients, a video consultation with a nurse or doctor is more convenient than coming to hospital and, in many cases, no further treatment is required following the consultation.

"For our staff, being able to assess someone remotely over video provides multiple benefits. Primarily, we can provide a more thorough assessment than by telephone. In most cases, we can make a quicker decision on care, which benefits the patient but also improves patient flow through our urgent care pathways.

“We appreciate video consultations are not ideal for all of our patients, which is why we also provide telephone assessments. This means any patient requiring urgent care can take advantage of a remote consultation, whether that’s via video or over the phone."

The virtual service is helping to ease the strain on A&E departments at a time when the NHS is under huge pressure.

More than 24,000 patients in NHSGGC have avoided a physical trip to A&E thanks to the work of the Flow Navigation Centre (FNC) team behind the virtual service.

Consultations are usually carried out within one hour of contact, which is typically faster than waiting in an A&E department.

Patients also receive the consultation from the comfort of their own home and with loved ones able to attend remotely.

When patients do require further treatment, such as an X-ray, the FNC team is able to schedule their appointment, which minimises waiting times and reduces pressure on A&E staff.

Dr Davidson added: “We continue to urge any patients who need urgent care advice to avoid physical A&E unless life-threatening and to consider accessing the virtual A&E service by calling NHS 24 on 111."