A pioneering video-link which lets patients talk to health experts at Airedale General Hospital is being rolled out to care homes across Calderdale and Huddersfield.

It means elderly residents in those districts are now to be linked to a round-the-clock telemedicine service to prevent them being taken into hospital, especially during the winter season.

This means they can get urgent medical help from specialist nurses or hospital consultants via a secure video link if they need it – without having to leave the comfort of their home.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has funded the installation of the service in 18 care homes as a trial project in a bid to reduce its hospital admissions.

The homes are linked to Telehealth Hub based at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, which is run by the trust’s specialist nurses, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Airedale Hospital is working with technical partners Involve to roll out its telemedicine service to about 200 nursing and residential homes this winter, as part of their newly-launched joint venture “Immedicare”.

Care homes with the highest number of hospital admissions have been chosen to pilot telemedicine for 12 months.

John Rayner, director of the health informatics service at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Airedale was the obvious and ideal partner for us because of the trust’s experience in delivering a service that has demonstrated success in reducing inappropriate A&E attendances, hospital admissions and lengths of stay in hospital.”

Dorothy Wood, aged 89, of Cowlersley Court in Huddersfield, is one of the residents to benefit from the new service.

Miss Beverley Hanson, manager of Cowlersley Court, said: “I love it. It helps us to make sure that our residents don’t go into hospital unless it is absolutely necessary.”

Results of using Airedale’s Telehealth Hub to manage chronic illness were recently presented to The Kings Fund Third Annual International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare 2013.

The findings for residents in care homes were: • hospital admissions dropped by 45 per cent • length of stay in hospital dropped by 30 per cent • the number of hospital bed days used over the year dropped by 60 per cent • use of A&E dropped by 69 per cent.