A couple of decades ago, specialist consultants and GPs would have sat together for ongoing training, building relationships and having the opportunity to share experiences. Unfortunately, these opportunities have disappeared and more often than not contact between GPs (especially younger GPs) and consultants is now limited to email or letter.
One of the benefits of telephone Advice and Guidance is the opportunity to learn. If a GP is able to talk to a consultant about a specific case they are unsure of, they will be more able to deal with similar cases themselves the next time they are presented with one. We see this learning in our call data, where call volumes to specialties peak and then slowly fall as GPs learn from their interactions.
The learning gained from discussing cases is not just limited to clinical experience, though. Speaking with peers over the telephone allows clinicians to improve their framing of questions and answers efficiently and effectively, something that GPs in single handed practices get little chance to work on. Calls also inform clinicians about local care pathways, “signposting” where to send patients to rather than sending them to A&E. This leads to more efficiencies in the system, with patients being sent to the right place, first time.
Calls as part of CPD
We also know that GPs are using calls they have made over Consultant Connect as evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity. The decision to use Consultant Connect, almost by definition, identifies either a PUN or a DEN (Patients’ Unmet Needs / Doctors’ Educational Needs) and this type of learning is, of course, recognized as valid for CPD, appraisals and, hence, revalidation.
All clinicians have access to their call recordings, which makes gathering the evidence for CPD quick and easy.
The short case study below is typical of feedback we receive from GPs using the service:
Dr Rebecca Moore – Vanbrugh Group Practice, Greenwich
“I used the Consultant Connect Greenwich service recently to call a paediatric consultant regarding a 2 year-old patient who had presented with a spider naevus. The mother had informed me that the child was not eating properly and the child was looking slightly off-colour.
My thoughts were to order bloods to check on liver function, but I wanted to speak to a consultant to check whether I should refer to the rapid assessment service or wait for the results.
After talking to the paediatric consultant, I was reassured that a referral to RAS was not necessary as the symptoms were fairly common.
I have used the service several times, particularly for paediatrics and found it to be very useful. I have also found that by using the service the patient (or worried mum) has been reassured by the Consultant input and it has allowed me to deal with any expectation that a specialist referral may be necessary.
I have also found the interactions with the consultants have been beneficial to my learning. By talking to the specialist about a case, I have more experience the next time a patient presents with similar symptoms.”
Whilst re-integrating Primary Care and Secondary Care may be a distant goal of the NHS, allowing clinicians to communicate effectively again can be done straight away.
Please contact us to arrange a demonstration of Consultant Connect by calling 01865 261467 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.