THE Modality Partnership of GP surgeries - a national group whose practices include Fisher Medical in Skipton and in Cross Hills, Steeton and Silsden, has brought in a new, online system in order to help it provide a better level of care to its patients.

Currently, Modality says it can receive more than 4,000 calls a day to its surgeries - including many that are 'non urgent' or 'inappropriate'. This level of calls, it says, is unsustainable for staff and potentially unsafe for patients who struggle to get through, and might get fed up and give up - one wonders how many of the fed-up take themselves off to A&E at Airedale General Hospital.

Modality, which is struggling to recruit doctors, has therefore brought in a new, online service - although it does say the old telephone system will still be available, for those - usually the older amongst us - who are not completely au fait with computers.

Patients simply visit their practice website and choose from a variety of options - such as accessing test results, or requesting a face to face appointment with a health professional - a doctor or nurse. It is also offering patients the opportunity to go into their practice and someone to talk it through with them.

There will be those who will like the new system - remember how we got used to telephone consultations? And, clearly GP surgeries are struggling both to recruit and to hold onto staff. Younger people with busy lives whose use of Smartphones and computers is second nature, but others will struggle - including the most vulnerable, it can only be hoped that the system will weed out those who can cope with the new digital age, and leave the phones for those who need them.