“Switch on / switch off” additional NHS consultant resource

Published: 9th September 2020
One of the biggest challenges for hospitals delivering an Advice & Guidance service is staffing it - particularly during winter. The good news is that there's now a way you can "switch on / switch off" additional consultant resource this winter.

One of the biggest challenges for hospitals delivering an Advice & Guidance service is staffing it.

This was a problem faced by Steve Burnett, Assistant General Manager for Specialty Medicine at East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust. Steve commented

“Obviously I can’t magically give consultants more time to answer their phone, so we looked at other possible solutions. That’s when Consultant Connect talked about their national network – we could outsource some of these calls to other neurology consultants elsewhere.”  Read the case study.

The National Consultant Network (NCN) consists of NHS consultants (on the Specialty Register) who are able to answer calls or written requests for advice. For example, they may work part time and be willing to take calls on their days off. The good news is – it’s very flexible. The NCN can be ‘switched on’ (within 48 hours) as a back up whenever your hospital needs it. For example, you may decide to use the NCN (for one or multiple specialties), during a short peak period e.g February – April or November – February.

Many areas across the UK are already using the NCN – currently 74% of all calls to the NCN result in an admission or referral being avoided.

For Chris Duffy, GP and chair of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG, it’s a good idea: “I think networks can solve certain problemsIt’s a much more sensible way of working on a bigger scale for certain things.” HMR have been using the Consultant Network since late 2018 to deliver advice to GPs in its area.  When the service launched in HMR, GPs in the area had access to NCN consultants in 7 specialities, 15months later, the A&G specialties available doubled. Read this blog post.

In January 2020, we extended the operating hours of the NCN, meaning that GPs are now able to contact Elective Care specialties Monday to Friday between 9am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday between 9am-5pm.

We are currently able to cover most specialties for phone and written Advice & Guidance requests, including:

  • Cardiology (and ECG/Echo image analysis)
  • Dermatology (and image review)
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology (and podiatry image review)
  • Elderly Care
  • E.N.T
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Medicine
  • Gynaecology
  • Haematology
  • Neurology
  • Ophthalmology (and image review)
  • Oncology
  • Paediatrics
  • Renal Medicine
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Rheumatology
  • Trauma & Orthopaedics (and image review)
  • Urology

Consultants on the NCN enjoy answering calls from GPs around the country and knowing that their advice is helping GPs, patients and Secondary Care. Click here to read their case studies. 

More information

If you have any questions about our National Network for Elective Care,  contact us on 018656 261467, email hello@consultantconnect.org.uk.

Request a call back

Contact us

For more information about how we work with commissioners, hospitals & mental health trusts to improve patient care, please get in touch.

Join a webinar

Listen to health experts from the comfort of your desk as we bring the experts to you in our series of online webinars.

Join our mailing list

Join our mailing list and we'll keep you informed of our latest blogs, project news, and upcoming webinar dates and topics.