Consultant Connect was launched in Coventry and Warwickshire in 2016, providing clinicians in Primary Care with access to rapid Enhanced Advice & Guidance (A&G) from NHS specialists. We spoke with Bushra Wassa, a Physician Associate in Coventry, and Dr Peter Gregory, GP, to find out how utilising Consultant Connect has positively impacted their ways of working.
How does Consultant Connect help you in your everyday role?
‘I use the Consultant Connect App very frequently; it’s one of the best services I’ve used. It provides multiple benefits; for example, I can seek advice when I’m with a patient, rather than writing my notes retrospectively. When I’m on the phone with a specialist, we can create a management plan together and discuss it in detail.
‘Enhanced A&G is especially useful when I’m working in the Diabetes Clinic, as there are added complexities. I can call a specialist who will provide advice on the dose of insulin needed and how to proceed, and I can action the recommendations there and then.’ – Bushra Wassa.
What are the biggest benefits of Enhanced A&G?
‘By the time I see them, a lot of patients are already struggling; either with a severe condition or because all available options within Primary Care have been exhausted. Rather than refer them to Secondary Care where they could sit on a referral list for 6-10 months receiving no treatment, using Consultant Connect enables me to speak with a specialist who can guide me on initiating treatment such as antibiotics. The service allows clinicians to begin lines of treatment for patients that would otherwise be delayed until they’re seen in Secondary Care.’ – Bushra Wassa.
Are there any examples of when you’ve used Enhanced A&G that have helped you ensure better care for your patient?
‘I recently saw a patient who had a skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa. They were in a lot of pain and were regularly going to the hospital to have abscesses drained. This continued to the point where the patient was expressing suicidal thoughts because of the constant agony they were in. We had tried all options available to us, and the next step was a referral to Secondary Care. I sent a message to the Dermatology specialists at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire via the Consultant Connect App, and they responded with a management plan for the patient.
‘The response was very quick and detailed, and the patient is much happier now; it was a great outcome.’ – Bushra Wassa
‘One of my patients was facing a delay in decision for complex gynaecology surgery due to their consultant being on long-term leave. The patient was very anxious the delay would make surgery harder and less successful. They had been “primed” with a hormonal injection and anticipated a scan to assess changes to help plan surgery.
‘Telephone Advice & Guidance allowed me to seek rapid advice from a gynaecologist who understood the complexity and time-criticality of the situation. They offered to get the patient re-assessed on the 2-week pathway. The patient was relieved by this, and thankful for the management plan.’ – Dr Peter Gregory
How do you find conversing with the Secondary Care specialists via Consultant Connect?
‘They are so helpful. I feel more comfortable calling via the app than by switchboard because they are prepared to receive calls and ready to provide advice and make us feel reassured. It’s a completely different experience, and definitely a positive one.’
What advice would you give to clinicians who aren’t sure about using the service?
‘Go for it! The best way to find out if it works for you is by trying it. The specialists are passionate about their role, and they enjoy giving advice. I never feel like a burden when I’m seeking guidance. It speeds up the process for you and the patient, and it can be managed within the consultation, freeing up admin time for other tasks.’