A video-link which lets patients talk to health experts at Airedale General Hospital is now in operation at 50 care homes.

Sutton Lodge residential home, in Sutton-in-Craven, is the latest to be provided with the telemedicine service which has cut hospital visits by the elderly and infirm.

The home is part of the Orchard Care Homes Group and is linked to a 24-hour service, provided seven days a week by the Telehealth Hub, based at the hospital.

This means that residents like 93-year-old Ernest Towers and hundreds of others can get medical help from consultants or specialist nurses via a secure video link if they need it – without having to leave home.

Mr Towers, originally from Garforth, Leeds, is a former member of the Royal Air Force. He has lived at Sutton Lodge for two years.

Sutton Lodge manager Michael Hebden said: “It’s brilliant, we really appreciate having back-up from the consultants and their medical team. Anything that reduces the time that our residents spend in A&E is good for us as it is so stressful for them to travel to hospital.”

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is working with technical partners Involve to roll out its telemedicine service to 200 nursing and residential homes.

They will link up care homes in Bradford, Calderdale, Lancashire, Cumbria and the Midlands to the Telehealth Hub at Airedale Hospital with the aim of relieving pressure on urgent care services.

New figures show dramatic reductions in the use of hospitals by care home residents who can access the service, with hospital admissions dropping by 45 per cent, the length of hospital stay being cut by 30 per cent, the number of hospital bed days used by the group falling by 60 per cent and use of A&E dropping by 69 per cent.

Rebecca Malin, head of business development and investment at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our patients, their relatives and the nursing home staff say they would prefer to receive more specialist care without having to leave their home.”