Since 2018, clinicians in Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board in Scotland have had access to Professional-to-Professional Telephone Advice provided by Consultant Connect. The service rapidly connects clinicians in Primary Care to specialists at local hospitals for comprehensive guidance.
We spoke to Drs Kashif Ali and Mullin, GP and Primary Care Lead for Diabetes and GP, respectively. The clinicians explained how the service is useful and benefits them and their patients.
‘Before the implementation of Consultant Connect, I would contact specialists by phoning the hospital switchboard or writing an email. Telephone Prof-to-Prof Advice is quick and easy to use and ensures positive results for my patients. It means many of them have been able to stay at home or be seen in a clinic soon after.’
– Dr Ali
‘Calls are quickly answered, usually in less than 30 seconds, and it means I don’t need to send an email or phone the department’s secretary and leave a message. It gives me a direct response from a consultant without having to wait for a callback.’
– Dr Mullin.
‘On many occasions, I have used this service which has resulted in the avoidance of acute admissions. One of my patients presented with obvious inflammatory bowel disease, but it wasn’t clear what the best course of action was, and I was hesitant to begin the patient on steroids. I called a local gastroenterologist via Consultant Connect, who recommended the commencement of steroids in addition to an urgent outpatient clinic referral. This avoided an acute admission for the patient, who was very satisfied with the advice.’
‘I saw an 88-year-old patient who was profoundly hyponatraemic which caused bradycardia and dizziness. The patient had recently undergone tests to investigate retinal artery occlusion. The urea and electrolyte results came back from the lab late in the day, but using the Consultant Connect service, I was able to speak to a consultant immediately to discuss follow-up options. The consultant advised that the patient be seen in the Department for Medicine for the Elderly the following day, where appropriate investigations could be performed, and medication reviewed. This meant that a late evening admission was avoided, and the patient’s current functional status could be discussed with the consultant who was planning the appointment.’
The doctors gave the following recommendations to clinicians who are unsure about using Consultant Connect to receive Telephone Prof-to-Prof Advice:
‘The service is an excellent resource for complex patients with concerning symptoms or findings that do not merit a same-day admission but should prompt urgent specialist review during office hours.’
– Dr Mullin.
‘Definitely use it; we need to embrace technology!’
– Dr Ali.