THOUSANDS of patients in Huddersfield can now book appointments with their GP at the click of a computer mouse.

Eighteen out of 52 surgeries in Huddersfield have introduced an internet-based appointments service called EMIS Access.

The service lets patients view their GP's timetable online and book or cancel appointments 24 hours a day.

Patients can update their contact details online, and will soon be able to use it to order repeat prescriptions.

The new service means patients can avoid the frustration of trying to get through to their surgery on the phone.

It will also free up staff time, and save the NHS several million of pounds a year in administration costs.

In national trials, the system has proved particularly popular with busy commuters, older patients and people with disabilities.

To use EMIS Access, patients at participating Huddersfield surgeries need to ask for a pin number at the reception desk, and then log on to the EMIS Access website to register.

Dr John Priestman & Partners at Kirkburton Health Centre in Huddersfield, are already using EMIS access.

Dr Priestman said: "It is already proving popular with our patients and we're confident that take-up will grow as more become aware of it.

"Patients like it because they can book an appointment at any hour of the day or night and avoid the frustration of lengthy telephone queues.

"Our surgery staff are also faced with fewer phone calls, freeing them to carry out other tasks."

Sean Riddell, Deputy Managing Director of EMIS said: "EMIS Access is a great example of how new technology can deliver benefits to the NHS – for both patients and staff.

"The number of users in Huddersfield is growing all the time.

"It's great for patients – because it allows them to book an appointment at their leisure, and avoid lengthy telephone queues.

"It's also great for surgeries – because it frees up time for staff to devote to other tasks, and cuts down on administration costs."