2023 Consultant Connect Awards: Patient Impact – Best Overall Projects

Published: 13th December 2023
2023 Consultant Connect Awards - read on to find out the winners of the Patient Impact: Best Overall Projects category…
Patient Impact Awards

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re delighted to recognise the achievements of our NHS colleagues with the fourth annual Consultant Connect Awards.

As well as the glory of victory, all winners are receiving a donation to their hospital charities. There are two categories:

  • Patient Impact – Best Overall Projects
  • Special Achievement – click here to find out the winners

Read on to find out the Patient Impact – Best Overall Projects winners, or click below to quickly navigate:

Patient Impact – Best Overall Projects 2023

And the winners are…

WINNER for Biggest Growth:

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust

We are pleased to announce University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) as the ‘Biggest Growth Award’ winner. The project, which launched in November 2020, saw call volumes increase by 153% from 2022 to 2023. A large part of the increase is attributed to the fact that, in May of this year, it was decided that all calls for Ambulatory Emergency Care Admissions must be routed via Consultant Connect. Of all queries received for acute services, only 62% required an admission. Similarly, for calls to elective care, 41% resulted in the patient avoiding a referral or an admission.

‘It is a pleasure to work with the team at UHNM. With an open approach to technology adoption, the team always shares new ways to increase the service offering through Consultant Connect across primary, secondary, community and ambulatory care. There are always new and exciting discussions about how Consultant Connect can be integrated to streamline existing pathways, and the growth this year is a testament to the team’s enthusiasm. Congratulations!’ – Hayley Kassam, Account Manager at Consultant Connect.



HIGHLY COMMENDED for Biggest Growth:

NHS Buckinghamshire Place

With a year-to-date growth in Advice & Guidance (A&G) calls of 81%, we’re delighted to recognise Buckinghamshire Place for the ‘Biggest Growth Award’. The project launched in late 2018 and has really taken off this year with the introduction of several essential lines, such as Medicine Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) and Frailty Hospital at Home. 2023 also saw the implementation of the Community SPA service, which captures calls to community lines, for example, Urgent Community Response and Buckinghamshire Integrated Respiratory Service (BIRS).

The project’s expansion has enabled ambulance clinicians within South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) to utilise Consultant Connect as a pre-programmed service directory to communicate with NHS colleagues as needed.

‘I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the teams within Buckinghamshire Place and SCAS throughout the year to expand the scope of the Consultant Connect service for primary care and ambulance staff. We are now looking towards using the Consultant Connect App as a single point of access in Buckinghamshire, which will help ensure the continuity of service for users.’ – Stephen Lamb, Customer Success Manager at Consultant Connect.



WINNER for Innovation:

Care Homes Project – Swansea Bay University Health Board

This year’s ‘Innovation Award’ goes to Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Care Homes project, a first-of-its-kind project at Consultant Connect. Launched in June 2023, the service allows NHS healthcare professionals to work with staff at care homes daily to identify residents needing clinical input. The rapid contact between care providers ensures residents are on the correct pathway from the beginning, delivering the best level of care. The project also gives the care homes a clear escalation route designed to provide as many opportunities as possible to help residents avoid the need to be conveyed to hospital.

‘It’s been a privilege to work with the Health Board to implement this project, and it is a fantastic and pioneering use of Consultant Connect, making a real difference to care home residents’ treatment. I hope this pilot will serve as a basis for a wider intervention across Swansea and lead to many other NHS areas exploring similar projects themselves.’ – Patrick Keys, Account Manager at Consultant Connect.



HIGHLY COMMENDED for Innovation:

Suspected Head & Neck Cancer Pathway – University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

A little over six months ago, one of the most inventive pathways in North Central London ICB launched. We’re pleased to recognise the Suspected Head and Neck Cancer messaging service for the ‘Innovation Award’. The messaging line, answered by the Head and Neck Cancer Team at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), ensures that the specialists receive all the necessary clinical correspondence from primary care clinicians seeing patients with suspected cancer. The mandatory messaging proforma ensures that the relevant patient details are included, speeding up the referral pathway. Redirecting messages this way allows lower acuity cases to continue treatment within primary care whilst ensuring that patients who need an accelerated level of care are referred quickly.

Since launch, 42% of messages sent for clinical input resulted in the patient being referred on a two-week wait (2WW) pathway, enabling them to receive appropriate and timely care.

‘The Head and Neck Cancer Team at UCLH have been a pleasure to work with and have been extremely motivated to innovate their pathways to improve the speed and quality of the patient care they provide. We continue to work very closely and hope to be able to roll out additional functionality for them in 2024.’ – Nick Smith, Account Manager at Consultant Connect.


WINNER for All-Encompassing:

Pan-Wales Project

Following the great news earlier this year that Enhanced A&G in Wales has been renewed for a further three years, we are delighted to announce that this year’s ‘All-Encompassing Award’ goes to the pan-Wales Consultant Connect project.

Initially launched in April 2020 and made available to all seven Health Boards and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, the service provides a single point of access for all NHS healthcare professionals nationwide. As the adoption of the tech across Wales has grown, more pathways have been implemented, and, as a result, more patients have been treated in the right place the first time.

2023 saw Swansea Bay University Health Board launch a first-of-its-kind service, expanding Enhanced A&G to include both general and community dental services. Allowing dentists to access patient advice from consultants within orthodontics and restorative dentistry has ensured the management of patients in the most appropriate setting, prioritising patients who need to be seen more urgently.

In addition to Enhanced A&G, a Referral Triage and Validation project was initiated in Hywel Dda University Health Board. The first set of dermatology referrals has recently been triaged to reduce the backlog. In one month, 770 dermatology referrals were triaged by out-of-area NHS consultant dermatologists on our National Consultant Network (NCN), with 27% returned to Primary Care with comprehensive management plans. As a result, this has expanded to include consultant-led triage and validation of new-in dermatology referrals until spring 2024.

‘We have seen incredible growth and development in the pathways we support. The service has routed more than 200,000 calls for advice since its launch, with over 100,000 made in the last 12 months. October 2023 saw more than 10,000 calls placed in one month for the first time, which was repeated in November. This uptake reflects knowledge sharing between Health Boards and is a testament to the dedication of the national representatives.’ – Cori Bullett, Customer Success Lead at Consultant Connect.



HIGHLY COMMENDED for All-Encompassing:

NHS Coventry and Warwickshire ICB

As 2022’s winners, we are thrilled to highlight NHS Coventry and Warwickshire ICB for the ‘All-Encompassing Award’ this year. The project launched in 2016 with an initial focus on A&G and has now significantly expanded, utilising a full range of Consultant Connect services, including cross-hospital calling, MDTs, Patient-Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU) and Patient Connect.
The rollout shows how Consultant Connect can be used across all aspects of the patient journey, going beyond A&G to encompass patient-specialist communication and triaging hospital backlogs, to name a few.

At South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT), PIFU and Patient Connect have been implemented to enable patients to initiate an IG-secure virtual consultation with a specialist clinician. In the last 12 months, more than 13,000 calls were made to PIFU lines across multiple specialties, with calls, on average, answered within 22 seconds. This meant patients’ conditions/queries were resolved at the point of contact rather than directing them to attend hospital unnecessarily. Additionally, the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) uses Consultant Connect to contact the Frailty Unit at SWFT for rapid advice on navigating patients. The service saw 59% of calls resulting in the patient being triaged in the community, their GP or given advice for self-care.

‘Coventry and Warwickshire ICB are leaders in showcasing the range of benefits resulting from implementing a full variety of Consultant Connect services. The healthcare professionals utilise the platform’s full functionality range, going beyond Telephone A&G, and the benefits for clinicians and patients are there for all to see.’ – Marija Tofts, Account Manager at Consultant Connect.



HIGHLY COMMENDED for All-Encompassing:

Doncaster and Bassetlaw

This year, we recognise the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Consultant Connect project for the ‘All-Encompassing Award’. The first-time call connection rate improved from 71% in 2022 to 74% in 2023. Although out-of-area NHS consultants on the National Consultant Network (NCN) are available as back up to local specialists, because of the high connection rate from local specialists, calls rarely need to be picked up by the NCN.

In addition to the elective care telephone lines, the project has three well-established Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) lines: Doncaster Medicine SDEC, Bassetlaw Medicine SDEC and Surgery SDEC. These lines account for more than 1,500 of the total number of calls placed, and the Doncaster Medicine SDEC line had a 97% first-time connection rate in November 2023, indicating how embedded these services have become.

Alongside Enhanced A&G, a Referral Triage and Validation project was implemented to support with triaging long-waiters in dermatology at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. A total of 4,000 referrals were triaged, which resulted in 47% of referrals receiving advice, allowing patients to commence treatment immediately. 2% of referrals were upgraded to a 2WW pathway, ensuring that patients who needed an expedited level of care were prioritised.

‘Reflecting on the Doncaster and Bassetlaw project in 2023, we have seen the completion of a hugely successful referral triage programme in dermatology, where almost 2,000 patients were provided with an immediate treatment plan for their skin condition. It was great to work with the SDEC team to establish the service and enable primary care and ambulance clinicians the opportunity to ensure that patients were on the most appropriate pathways, and, in many cases, avoiding a wait in ED.’ – Stephen Lamb, Customer Success Manager at Consultant Connect.


Please note that all outcome data relates to calls and/or photo messages where an outcome was reported.


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If you have any questions, or would like more information about our projects, call us on 01865 261 467 or email hello@consultantconnect.org.uk.


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