Enhanced Advice & Guidance, provided by Consultant Connect, has been available to clinicians in Coventry and Warwickshire ICB since 2017. The service rapidly connects them to specialists for comprehensive advice via Telephone and Photo Messaging. We spoke with GP Dr Katie Hebbes, Diabetes Foot Nurse Specialist Sylvanna Sandhu and Optometrist Eleanor Coxson to find out how access to Enhanced Advice & Guidance benefits their NHS area.
‘Before having access to Consultant Connect, I would make dermatology referrals either to Health Harmonie or the local hospital, which could take several months for my patients to be seen. Consultant Connect is a much faster tool.
‘My first Photo Messaging Advice & Guidance query via Consultant Connect generated a management plan response in one hour. Three weeks later, when I needed further advice, I re-opened the original message with my follow-up query, which was answered by the same specialist half an hour later.
‘My second Photo Messaging query generated a patient management plan within 24 hours and, so far, the patient has not needed a follow-up with me or dermatology since.’
– Dr Katie Hebbes.
‘This is such a beneficial service as the patient knows their condition has been acted on immediately. I can say, “I have taken some pictures, and now everybody who needs to see this picture can see what is going on to make a quicker decision”.
‘Some of the patients I see have a foot wound, and usually, I would have to describe the wound. But a photo tells the story so much quicker. If I had a patient with no foot pulses whom I thought needed urgent intervention, an expert could look at the picture, say “it looks ischaemic,” and advise on the next steps.’
– Sylvanna Sandhu.
‘I have found Consultant Connect particularly helpful during COVID-19, where our usual referral pathways were disrupted, enabling me to reduce unnecessary strain on our hospital eye service. I feel very positively about Enhanced Advice & Guidance and would strongly recommend this to my colleagues who require a specialist opinion. The option of including photographs and OCT images really helps to give a thorough presentation of the patient.
‘Once the phone call ends, check your screen, as there will be outcome options. This helps summarise and end the consultation.’
– Eleanor Coxson.
Dr Katie Hebbes
‘I recently had two patients suffering with lichen planus and infantile eczema. On both occasions, I received rapid responses from dermatologists at University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) about how to treat and manage the conditions.
The use of Photo Advice & Guidance resulted in a great outcome for both patients as they received prompt management of their skin conditions. This is a very good service – timely, easy-to-follow guidance, with the ability to re-open cases for further discussion.’
‘A patient attended the podiatry clinic in the community for a review but was found to have deteriorated significantly. The podiatrist securely uploaded clinical photographs with the patient’s consent and added a brief history.
‘The images were reviewed, and the patient was transferred urgently to the Vascular Team at UHCW. This was all done via Consultant Connect. Without this service, the patient would have likely been sent to South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust for an assessment and then transferred to UHCW, but by sending the images for analysis, we bypassed that completely.
‘The fact that the patient was seen so quickly and efficiently is particularly important as they had an ischaemic foot, which is a vascular emergency.’
‘A patient suffering from chronic eyelid dermatitis contacted me. Unfortunately, his usual treatment regime was not alleviating his symptoms, so I used Consultant Connect to call a specialist for Advice & Guidance.
‘I found the entire procedure very beneficial as it provided immediate access to advice, and my call was answered within seconds. It was helpful to talk through the patient scenario with an expert clinician. In this case, I was connected to a hospital optometrist, and an ophthalmologist was present. Together, they gave me a clear treatment regime to relay to my patient.’