Michael Kerrigan, president, USI with Mary O'Brien, VideoDoc's chief executive and Dr Brian McManus, medical director, VideoDoc

More than 370,000 students are set to avail of free access to online GP consultations thanks to a new Union of Students (USI) initiative.

All members of USI will be able to receive a seven-day-a-week GP service from VideoDoc until the end of the academic year. VideoDoc is an Irish company that lets individuals log on from their computer or mobile device to see a GP.

Every doctor working with VideoDoc is registered with the Irish Medical Council, and the service is available from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week. The partnership between USI and VideoDoc was launched as part of a campaign to promote health and well-being in their 37 campuses nationwide.

USI president Michael Kerrigan says that the free use of VideoDoc will allow students to “rest assured”.

He said: “With the high cost of living and accommodation being a main factor in student poverty, [USI] students can now rest assured that if they get sick, they can save money on a GP visit with VideoDoc”.

Where needed, students will also be prescribed medication through the app. The prescriptions will be available for pickup at a chosen pharmacy or sent directly to the patient. Doctors will be unable to prescribe controlled drugs.

Many colleges offer on-campus doctors or medical help; however, they have been criticised in the past for lengthy waiting lists.

Mary O’Brien, chief executive and co-founder of VideoDoc, says: “Our experience is that about 70% of all GP visits can be treated online.

“Students who need to see a doctor but are far from their family GP, or too busy to attend a surgery between regular 9-to-5 working hours, can now log on from anywhere.”

VideoDoc allows individuals who aren’t students to pay just €20 per consultation, with monthly subscriptions to the app also available for €30, or €75 for a family of four.