PATIENTS who call 999 for an ambulance could soon be assessed via Skype if their condition isn’t deemed to be life-threatening.

A trial is underway in Hampshire to see if face-to-face smartphone apps could allow medics to make more accurate decisions by viewing callers.

The move is likely to be controversial in the face of national concern over long ambulance delays. In April, Guy Hedger waited almost 50 minutes for an ambulance after he was shot because he wasn’t categorised as a top priority patient.

The 61-year-old died after he suffered shotgun wounds to the torso at his St Ives home in the early hours of April 30.

However, bosses at the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) said the move could help offset the difficulties posed by diagnosing a patient over the phone without being able to see them. Other ambulance trusts are also testing out the idea.

A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: “SCAS is currently trialling the use of technology to provide face-to-face consultations over the telephone, as are other ambulance trusts.

“This was initially started at certain nursing homes who were frequent callers to our service.

“This enables both the patient and the trained clinician within the clinical co-ordination centre - where 999 calls are received - to see each other.

“This gives the clinician more information when they are assessing the patient as they can see the patient and view the injury severity and symptoms.

“The patient can see the clinician which improves the experience of the assessment they receive.

“There are some injuries or conditions that are more challenging to assess over the phone with no visual aid and this trial provides increased patient safety during a telephone assessment.”

The service operates a “no send” policy for its vehicles to the lowest-risk patients during times of peak demand, apparently to allow them to prioritise those most at risk if resources are under strain.

During such times, a taxi firm provides an alternative mode of transport if no ambulances are available.

A spokesperson from the South Western Ambulance Service did not return calls for comment.