Patients in Doncaster are being spared an avoidable visit to hospital this winter thanks to GPs using an expanded rapid telephone advice and guidance service, delivered by Consultant Connect.
Having direct and quick access to advice from Consultants, GPs can ensure that patients get the right care first time. This often means that patients avoid unnecessary trips to hospital, the NHS saves money and hospital consultants spend time seeing patients they need to see.
NHS Doncaster CCG introduced the service in the summer of 2017 and since then it has been progressively rolled out across more specialities at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
In January 2018, the project covered all local practices and 7 specialties such as gastroenterology, gynaecology, haematology and ophthalmology. In 2018, calls were being answered by consultants within one minute.
Now the service continues to support all local practices and covers 15 specialties. The average time it takes for a consultant to answer a call from a GP is just 26 seconds. The immediacy of this conversation means GPs can often get advice whilst the patient is still in the room.
Dr Manjushree Pande, local GP at The Tickhill and Colliery Practice said: “Consultant Connect helps us to make a good, informed judgement on best management and whether or not to refer a patient to hospital.
“Over the last 12 months, a patient from our practice attended the emergency department due to foot pain. The patient had an x-ray which confirmed that a bone wasn’t broken and was discharged from the emergency department.
“A short time later, the patient returned to the practice with the same issue. The x-ray report identified the possibility of a foreign body in the foot and rather than sending the patient back to the emergency department, Consultant Connect was used to speak directly with a specialist.
“The Consultant was able to review the images and quickly organised a repeat x-ray and follow up appointment for the patient. Without Consultant Connect, the patient would have had to go back to the emergency department and would have had to wait to be seen. Going direct to a pre-arranged appointment with a specialist made best use of both patient and hospital time. This meant the patient received the care and treatment they needed in a more streamlined and effective way.”
Since the service was launched, Consultants at Doncaster Royal Infirmary have taken over 3,000 calls from GPs and 54% of these have resulted in a patient referral to hospital being avoided and care provided in the local community.
Dr David Crichton, local GP and Clinical Chair, NHS Doncaster CCG said: “Consultant Connect is making a real difference in many different ways.
“Patients are benefiting from a telephone conversation between GPs and hospital consultants to seek immediate advice and in some cases avoiding an unnecessary trip to hospital. This is better for patients, their carers and families and also helps make best use of NHS resources.”
Jonathan Patrick, Chief Executive at Consultant Connect said: “We’ve seen the hugely positive impact our service can have for patients, GPs and consultants across the country and we are delighted to see this working in the Doncaster area. It is great to see local consultants and GPs working together to provide the best possible care for patients from their first appointment onwards.”