We spoke with Drs Weaver and Gregory, GPs in Somerset and Warwickshire, respectively, to find out how their access to Diabetes and Endocrinology Advice & Guidance benefits them and their patients.
Dr Weaver explains that before the introduction of Consultant Connect, he would have had to call the hospital switchboard to be connected to a consultant for advice or write a referral letter. This was both time-consuming and caused long delays in the patient’s care.
‘Consultant Connect provides almost instant access to a specialist, often within the 10-minute consultation with the patient, with the ability to get expert advice to help manage the patient and avoid referrals where appropriate. I highly recommend clinicians trialling this service, and you will quickly see the benefits.’
– Dr Weaver.
‘Alongside Telephone Advice & Guidance, I also appreciate the IG-secure clinical photography feature, PhotoSAF, which is excellent as it is safe and confidential, and synchronises with my desktop.’
Prior to the introduction of Telephone Advice & Guidance, Dr Gregory would phone or email consultants he knew if they worked in the appropriate specialty. Otherwise, he would use advice & guidance via ‘Choose and Book’:
‘Previously, if I had a suspected urgent case, I would have been forced to try and admit the patient or phone a secretary to get a message to a consultant (which was often unsuccessful).’
‘Using Telephone Advice & Guidance provided by Consultant Connect is immediate. It is always better to be able to deal with the problem, resolve it and tick it off. Sometimes this is clinically crucial too.
‘I have found it very useful, and I would recommend anyone with access use it.’
‘I recently used Consultant Connect to contact a local endocrinology consultant for advice on levothyroxine dosing for a pregnant patient with hypothyroidism. The patient had a history of complications during past pregnancies and was anxious that her thyroid condition was adequately managed.
‘The consultant guided me on adjusting the dose for the patient during pregnancy and advised on the intervals of when to repeat blood tests. Being able to speak with the consultant directly and during the consultation with the patient meant that I could reassure her there and then.’
‘After seeing a patient who potentially had type 1 diabetes, I was unsure if they should be started on insulin or oral hypoglycaemics. Usually, I would manage type 2 presentations but admit children or teenagers presenting with type 1 to paediatrics.
The patient was anxious to act on the situation and wanted answers straight away. I contacted the Diabetes and Endocrinology Team via Consultant Connect, and they understood the difficulty in defining this type of diabetes. After the conversation, they started the patient’s management the same day through the diabetes nurse in the hospital clinic. Admission was not indicated, but a referral to outpatients would have taken some weeks at least. It felt reassuring to have the management started within a few hours of the diagnosis. This was a great result.’
‘Before Consultant Connect, patients would have to wait for their GP surgery to write to my secretary for advice and the whole process could take around three to four weeks. Some GPs are worried about asking what they think might be silly questions or taking up a consultant’s time, but, in fact, I’d rather be disturbed to save a patient being referred when they don’t need to be. It has so many benefits.’
– Consultant Endocrinologist in Dorset.
‘I tried Consultant Connect for a patient with ED and low testosterone levels. I spoke to a local endocrinology consultant and he gave me advice over the phone. My initial plan was to refer but now, after his advice, I have cancelled the referral. It took 30 seconds to connect to the consultant and three minutes to discuss the case. No hassle at all. Please have a go if you get the chance!’
– GP in Essex.