Clinical capacity on demand

Published: 30th May 2023
Find out how the National Consultant Network is helping NHS areas needing extra clinical capacity. It's a switch on/switch off service.
Clinical Capacity On Demand Consultant Connect

There are several clinical tasks that lend themselves to being efficiently delivered remotely. Where local consultant capacity is stretched, under the leadership of a local clinical lead, this clinical activity can be carried out by NHS consultants from outside of a local hospital. The activity is delivered as a service, with no disruption to local workflows and using local systems.

Costs involved are per case and charged ‘pay as you go’ or ‘on demand’, meaning as local clinical capacities change, NHS areas can switch on/switch off the service with 72 hours’ notice.

NHS consultants are brought in on a short or long-term ‘virtual locum’ basis:

  • Responding to written or telephone Advice & Guidance (A&G) requests
  • Triaging referrals (including long waiter backlogs and/or new referrals as they come in)
  • Reviewing and validating overdue follow-up lists (ensuring patients are seen/discharged in the most appropriate way, e.g. face to face or virtual appointment, discharged to PIFU services etc.)
Typical outcomes:
  • A&G requests: On average, 66% of referrals result in the patient no longer needing to be seen in Secondary Care
  • Referral triage and validation: Expect 30-45% of referrals to be returned with A&G or be redirected to a more appropriate pathway (pathway availability dependant)
How long does it take to get started?

The service is entirely delivered remotely. The initial set-up is usually completed within 2-3 weeks and with 72 hours’ notice, the service is switched on/switch off.

How it works
  • One or two NHS consultants from our network are assigned to a project (depending on volumes)
  • Our consultants are briefed on local pathways
  • Our consultants work under the leadership of the local clinical lead
  • All data is recorded for audit, training and improvement purposes


In Practice | Project examples:

Area 1: Used the service to answer A&G queries

This NHS area introduced access to Neurology advice from out-of-area NHS consultants to help reduce unnecessary referrals to their local hospital and reduce waiting times. Over a period of 100 days, 78% of calls requesting Neurology advice were answered and 72% of those calls resulted in hospital visits being avoided. This area now uses out-of-area NHS Neurology consultants as a backup to local consultants.

  • To date, 78% of calls, where the outcome has been recorded, have resulted in patients avoiding an unnecessary trip to hospital.


Area 2: Used the service to clear their waiting list

This NHS area had a backlog of over 450 community paediatrics referrals. They used our consultant-led referral triage service to reduce clinical risk and clear the waiting list:

  • 42% of patients were returned to the referring clinician with advice and a comprehensive management plan


Area 3: Used the service to clear their waiting list

This NHS area had a backlog of over 4,000 dermatology referrals. They used our consultant-led referral triage service to reduce clinical risk and clear the waiting list:

  • 47% of referrals received advice to commence treatment immediately
  • 2% of referrals upgraded to 2ww


If you have any questions or would like to find out how our services can support your area, email, call us on 01865 261 467 or fill in the short form below to request a call back from the team:

Callback request - Clinical Capacity on demand

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