More patients will have access to online outpatient services after NHS Highland gave the green light to expand the programme.

Patient’s from two more hospitals will be able to attend appointments from the comfort of their own home thanks to specially staffed clinics using video-consulting technology.

The NHS Near Me service at the Portree Hospital in Skye was launched on 19 December and another clinic based at the Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie, Sutherland, went live 9 January.

It follows the success of the web-based service trailed at Caithness General Hospital in Wick last year

The programme began in two departments, respiratory and stroke and rehabilitation.

Now there are 17 departments offering appointments through the service, which allows patients to use their smartphone or computer for a video consultation with a clinician rather than travelling long distances.

Clare Morrison, NHS Highland’s NHS Near Me lead, said: “Our aim is to offer the same range of NHS Near Me services in Portree and Golspie as we currently have in Wick.

“The NHS Near Me service can be used by patients who have a device for making video calls like a smartphone or computer with webcam, and a reliable internet connection.

“We have already provided a few appointments this way successfully, and have just started work with a public group in Skye to ensure the at-home service is easy to use.

“NHS Near Me was created in response to patient demand to reduce travel to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for appointments.

“Although the initial focus is on out-patient services, work has begun on testing NHS Near Me in GP practices and community teams.”

The NHS Near Me programme was initially rolled out in GP practices in October last year.

Patient’s were able to dial-in to an appointment using internet-connected devices with a camera, such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet.