5 NHS areas using the NCN to support their clinicians

Published: 8th February 2022
The 5 NHS areas described in this article have one thing in common – they’ve all made it radically quicker and easier for clinicians, paramedics etc. to get specialist advice despite the current pressures.
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The 5 NHS areas described in this article have one thing in common – they’ve all made it radically quicker and easier for clinicians, paramedics etc., to get specialist advice by using the innovative National Consultant Network (NCN).

Most of our projects now use the NCN. Why? Because it’s so flexible. The service can be rapidly switched on/switched off to provide short or long-term relief to local clinicians.

The 5 NHS areas below show how it’s possible to achieve different but significant results despite local challenges. For an overview of NCN across the UK, click here.

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Area 1 – Across ALL specialties

This NHS area’s Trust did not have sufficient consultant cover to be able to offer a full Advice & Guidance service. Instead, GPs have immediate access to NHS consultants in other areas, freeing up local capacity. The service provides access to 16 specialties, including a COVID-19 Advice line.

  • Over 72% of telephone A&G calls have resulted in admissions and referrals being avoided.
Area 2 – Responding to all Paediatric dermatology requests

This NHS area could not offer a local Paediatric dermatology service. The CCG decided to introduce a Paediatric teledermatology service using an out-of-area hospital via Consultant Connect.

  • 90% of all paediatric dermatology requests in this area have been managed in Primary Care via Advice & Guidance from out-of-area specialists and sent back to the requester  (e.g. GP or advanced nurse practitioners in the GP practice)


Area 3 – Giving GPs access to Mental Health specialists 

This NHS area did not have local capacity to support Adult Mental Health and Mental Health Medication advice lines, so they introduced two Mental Health advice lines, via out-of-area NHS Mental Health specialists.

  • 77.1% of all calls to the service have allowed the GP to assist the patient with no onward referral necessary being advised.


Area 4 – Backing up local Neurology when needed

This NHS area introduced access to Neurology advice from out-of-area NHS consultants to help reduce unnecessary referrals to their local hospital and reduce waiting times. Over a period of 100 days, 78% of calls requesting Neurology advice were answered and 72% of those calls resulted in hospital visits being avoided. This area now uses out-of-area NHS Neurology consultants as a backup to local consultants. Currently 80% of calls are picked up by the NCN and 20% go to local consultants.

  • To date, 78% of calls, where the outcome has been recorded, have resulted in patients avoiding an unnecessary trip to hospital.
Area 5 – Prioritising waiting lists with NCN NHS consultants

This NHS area had a large backlog in cardiology and asked Consultant Connect to support them with triaging. They started with a very small trial, approximately 100 patients, with a National Consultant Network Consultant Cardiologist reviewing the cases and triaging the referrals. To date, this area has now triaged over 3,000 patients and are using Consultant Connect’s service to focus on the new referrals coming in. Results to date:

  • > 3,150 referrals triaged
  • 13.5 hours – average time for consultant to action
  • Under 72 hours – average turnaround time via email (e-RS)


  • 20% of referrals are marked as urgent and prioritised for diagnostics and a telephone or face-to-face consultation.
  • 44% of referrals are booked into diagnostics and a routine outpatient appointment is being arranged (face-to-face for 41% of cases and via a telephone consultation for 3%)
  • 4% of referrals are booked directly into an appointment, without additional diagnostics being needed
  • 27% of referrals are returned to GPs in primary care with advice of which 20% include a recommendation to arrange tests




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*Data correct as of February outcome percentages based on calls and photo-message sessions where an outcome has been reported by either the requesting or responding clinician.

If you have any questions or would like to find out how this service can be used in your area, please contact us: T: 01865 261467 E: hello@consultantconnect.org.uk
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