Praise for scheme to bring doctors and specialists closer together

Friday 9th March, 2018

Local GPs have praised a new scheme that allows doctors the ability to immediately speak to a local specialist, often with the patient still in the room.

This allows them to get expert advice in real time, instead of writing to a consultant and waiting sometimes days for a response or sending the patient to hospital.

In Coastal West Sussex the Consultant Connect service covers four high demand specialties, Paediatrics, Gynaecology, Urology and Rheumatology.

This is part of the GP Transformation Agreement (GPTA) and is part of the work of local doctors to reduce inappropriate referrals to make it easier for patients to get the care they need.

The telephone advice and guidance service allows GPs to dial a single number, choose a specialty and speak to a consultant for advice on the best way to care for their patient.

Since the service launched in May 2016, GPs from across the whole of the Coastal West Sussex CCG area have made more than 1470 calls to local specialists to get expert advice on the best care for their patients.

This is estimated to have led to more than 880 patients in the region being spared an unnecessary visit to hospital.

The scheme called Consultant Connect allows GPs to call consultants during a patient appointment rather than having to refer the patient to a specialist or wait to receive advice.

This ensures patients receive faster reassurance from their GP and the GP can resolve cases without the need for multiple appointments.

It means doctors can provide their patients with the right care at the right time.

Support from local GPs:

From Coastal West Sussex GPs (unfortunately anonymous)

  • The consultant was extremely helpful, giving me several specific acute treatment options and advising referral to outpatients, taking the patients details so that she could look out for her. The patient was grateful for consultant advice which helped to reassure both the patient and myself, and very likely prevented an admission (to hospital).
  • I have used it for paediatrics, urology and gynaecology. I have found in all cases it very useful guidance for formulating a plan. In one case – paediatrics - the patient’s mum was present and she thought it was wonderful to be able to phone an expert. In the urology case I spoke to the cancer lead about an abnormal ultrasound suggesting there was a urological problem (hydronephrosis), but I was advised to get more detailed imaging before referral. This led to a more appropriate outcome for this patient (CT scan didn’t show a urological problem, and elderly patient decided she didn’t want referral for her weight loss symptoms). One paediatrics case needed a referral as I suspected and another confirmed continue with monitoring symptoms, so no referral
  • Gave me 'on the spot' advice which I was able to share with the patient”
  • Discussion about reactive lymphadenopathy in a child - I was able to further reassure the parents after speaking to a consultant paediatrician.”
  • I've been using consultant connect quite a lot and I am a massive fan. Of all the services to have been made available to me in the past few years this is by far the most useful one and it is fair to say that it has revolutionised my practise.”