A VIRTUAL fracture clinic has helped save hospital bosses more than half a million pounds in just two years.

The innovative scheme has also cut the number of times injured patients have had to come into hospital for an appointment.

The project was developed at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust's orthopaedic department.

Before the scheme stated, patients who had broken a bone and were treated in A&E were subsequently referred to a fracture clinic a couple of days later for a face-to-face assessment to see whether further treatment was needed.

This would mean having to come back into hospital when injured, leading to some having to make special arrangements for treatment.

Some patients would then need to come back for a yet another appointment to see a consultant specialising in their type of injury, for example, the spine or the foot.

Under the new system the patient’s injury and X-rays are assessed online and a decision taken on the next step of their care.

Specialist physiotherapist Lucy Arnott said: “For simple fractures, we are able to offer phone advice about rehabilitation and email over specific videos and information to help with the patient’s recovery.

“For those with more complicated problems who have to come in again, we can make sure they get a specific appointment with the right specialist or physiotherapist.

“This cuts right down the number of times patients have to come in and is making a real difference.

“We developed the project as a way of improving patient care but it has also had the added benefit of cutting down on costs.

“The basic cost of a new patient attending the fracture clinic is about £128 but the cost for a virtual clinic is just £64.

“It has been working out really well and everyone is benefitting.”

It total it has saved the trust £558,000.

Over a one year period, just 36 per cent of patients referred to the virtual fracture clinic needed a follow up appointment with a consultant and six per cent needed a specialist physiotherapist.

The changes have also helped cut waiting lists for patients by freeing up time for consultants.

Since its launch in September 2013, the virtual clinic has managed about 8,700 people.