An app that has been developed in Cornwall is helping the region’s GP surgeries reach their most vulnerable and isolated patients during the Covid-19 crisis.

Developed near Falmouth, the Help at Hand Community Info app is now being used by 12 GP surgeries, which serve 73,000 people in Cornwall.

The Help at Hand app enables GP surgeries to instantly refer their patients to a wide range of support services.

It allows individuals to access national and local support, from mental health services and support for elderly people to details of food deliveries and information on benefits.

When a GP surgery adopts the app, their patients, along with their relatives and carers, can use it to get the most up-to-date information on support services.

Andrew Kellard, owner of design consultancy AKA based near Falmouth, has been developing the Help at Hand app, which was designed to reduce the pressure on GP surgeries, over the last two years.

He was preparing to launch it with development partner St Austell Healthcare when the lockdown was enforced.

Together they then made the decision to adapt it and offer it for free to the whole health sector during the pandemic.

Andrew said: “The Help at Hand app was almost ready for launch when the coronavirus lockdown hit the UK. I instantly knew that, with a few adaptations, it could help healthcare providers and individuals in the crisis. It was particularly important to me that it could help to reach the most vulnerable and isolated people in our communities so I made the decision to offer it to surgeries for free.

“Just four weeks since its launch, the Help at Hand app is already serving around 73,000 people in Cornwall. We expect it to be made available to at least 123,000 people across the south west over the next week.

“At a time when people are looking for a wide range of support to get through a challenging and fast-changing situation, the app is providing GP surgeries with an efficient way of getting the right information out to their patients. I am delighted by the feedback we’ve had so far and am keen to hear from other surgeries and Primary Care Networks that may want to make use of this free app during the pandemic.”

Hayley Burgoyne, head of social prescribing at St Austell Healthcare said: “Having an online directory of local services that can signpost people to the correct support is so vital, especially in the current climate. The app is comprehensive and user-friendly and patient feedback is excellent.''