MILLIONS of pounds were invested on 2,000 hi-tech units to monitor the condition of chronically-ill patients in their homes – but five months later, only 135 are in use.

However, among those patients whose homes have been fitted with a Telehealth unit, there has been a 40 per cent reduction in emergency hospital admissions, saving NHS North Yorkshire and York nearly £90,000.

Andrew Hennessy, 45, who suffers from heart failure, said the scheme had saved him countless unnecessary trips to the doctor and given him peace of mind that his condition was being monitored.

But York GP and vice-chairman of the Local Medical Committee Dr Brian McGregor questioned why the primary care trust, which is trying to plug a £23 million deficit, invested £3.2 million on a system that was still being trialled.

He said: “One of the issues GPs have is should the trust have taken a risk on something we don’t know will work when it is in such a bad financial situation?”

He said the Telehealth system would put significant extra workload on community nurses, and said extra staff would need to be employed to look after the patients using the scheme.

Telehealth is a small, portable electronic unit that is programmed to take readings such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels and oxygen levels on a daily basis.

The device is connected to the patient’s phone line, meaning the readings are sent automatically to a monitoring centre.

If any abnormalities are flagged in the system, a healthcare professional is alerted and the patient is contacted.

Mr Hennessy, of Stamford Bridge, who has been using Telehealth for six weeks, said: “It has been really good for me, as I find it really reassuring to know that if I’m stuck here in the house alone, somebody will know if I’m not well and contact me.

“It has also saved me a lot of trips to the doctor because previously I was going to the surgery quite often for these tests.”

Kerry Wheeler, assistant director of strategy for NHS North Yorkshire and York, said the reason it was taking so long to get the Telehealth systems into use was because extensive preparatory work had to be carried out first – including engagement with local clinicians and the voluntary sector.