We spoke with Dr Angharad Triggs, a GP in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, where clinicians have had access to Telephone Advice & Guidance via Consultant Connect since June 2020.
We also talked to Dr Catherine Barnes, a Consultant Geriatrician at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, who has been answering local clinicians’ Telephone Advice & Guidance queries since October 2016.
The clinicians described how the Consultant Connect service benefits themselves, their colleagues and their patients.
‘I think the service is an excellent idea. Having a detailed conversation often allows us to divert an elderly patient away from an acute admission to a more appropriate setting, for example, a home visit or an outpatient appointment.’
– Dr Barnes.
‘It’s worth the five minutes it takes to set up this app to get good timely advice from a specialist. It has saved me time, several admissions, and the patient receives the appropriate care.’
– Dr Triggs.
‘An elderly patient had become anaemic but was not symptomatic enough to merit an acute admission to hospital. The patient did not tolerate oral iron supplementation. I quickly discussed the symptoms with a consultant via Consultant Connect, and we agreed that reviewing the patient as a non-emergency was the most appropriate option to help the patient and that an IV iron infusion was needed.
The consultant advised that a morning appointment would be best for the patient as it would be quieter and, therefore, the risk of exposure to Covid would be lessened.
Being able to rapidly contact a specialist consultant in this way meant that I secured the patient an early Saturday morning appointment to be reviewed and have the IV iron infusion carried out. Rapid Telephone Advice & Guidance meant the patient’s care was expedited safely.’
‘The Recovery at Home Team was concerned about an elderly patient living independently. She was known to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but had recently become more breathless. She complained of weight loss and a poor appetite and explained that she had been collapsing at home. She was recently seen in the Emergency Department, but they felt she wasn’t improving.
We arranged an urgent outpatient clinic appointment which she attended. We assessed her with access to her medical records and previous investigations. Blood tests, an ECG and lying and standing blood pressure were checked, and advice on medication changes was given. We liaised with other services involved in her care. This enabled the patient to get the assessment and support she needed without an emergency admission.’