Enhanced Telephone Advice & Guidance rapidly connects healthcare professionals with NHS specialists for thorough and speedy advice and has been available to clinicians across Wales since June 2020. We spoke with Dr Jonathan Griffin, a GP in Cardiff and Vale UHB, to discuss how his access to Telephone Advice & Guidance via Consultant Connect has impacted his workload and improved patient care.
How did you obtain specialist advice before using Consultant Connect?
‘In the past, I would’ve gone through the hospital switchboard and requested that they bleed the specialty registrar. Consultant Connect is a much better method as I can usually obtain advice from a specialist within minutes, whilst the patient is in front of me, without having to negotiate busy hospital switchboards, which is a really positive development.’
What advice would you give to other healthcare professionals who are thinking of using the service but might be unsure?
‘I’d definitely recommend colleagues to use Consultant Connect. It is extremely easy to use, it took no time to set up the free Consultant Connect App on my phone. It’s quick, easy and convenient.’
‘A patient presented with severe symptoms of back pain, knee pain with effusion, ankle pain and clear evidence of synovitis. The presentation was of an acute flare-up of probable seronegative arthritis. The patient had already been referred to Rheumatology and was awaiting an outpatient appointment, but their condition had clearly deteriorated significantly and rapidly. As a result, the patient was in a lot of pain, could barely mobilise and was in significant distress.
‘I spoke with an out-of-area NHS Consultant Rheumatologist on the National Consultant Network for advice. With the current Covid-19 climate, I wanted to avoid an admission for the patient if feasible, so it was helpful to be able to discuss my plan to treat the patient’s condition with a consultant and their reassurance meant that an admission was not necessary.
‘Using Telephone Advice & Guidance was reassuring for me and gave me the confidence that I was making the best decision. The patient was relieved that they didn’t need to be admitted to hospital.’
‘I saw a patient with chronic facial swelling of about six weeks and I was concerned with the possibility of vena cava obstruction. I spoke with a consultant at my local hospital via Consultant Connect to discuss the patient’s condition. I wanted the patient to have a chest x-ray urgently but, due to the current Covid-19 climate, I wanted to avoid an unnecessary trip for the clinically vulnerable patient.
‘The consultant arranged for the chest x-ray to be carried out that afternoon and looked at the film themselves, allowing us to urgently investigate as an outpatient. This was a great result for the patient as it meant they got the right care faster, reassuring them that their problem was being dealt with efficiently.’