Best Responses to COVID-19: Consultant Connect 2020 Awards

Published: 16th December 2020
Last week we published part one of Consultant Connect NHS Advice & Guidance Awards. This week we are publishing part two, and the category is ‘Best Responses to COVID-19’.

The NHS has worked tirelessly throughout the challenges of 2020 and specifically in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you NHS, it has been a privilege to work alongside you.

As well as the glory of victory, all winners receive a donation to each hospital’s charity.


NHS Advice & Guidance:

Best Responses to COVID-19


1. Best Response to COVID-19: Elective Care – Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust (NGH) launched 13 Advice & Guidance (A&G) lines during April – June 2020. These lines were launched rapidly in response to, and to help throughout, the COVID-19 pandemic. This now means that NGH have every single specialty available via Consultant Connect.

The A&G lines are supporting clinicians to make decisions about complex patients’ needs, to prevent as many patients as possible going to hospital where more suitable pathways are available. The service has contributed to NGH’s hard work to help the flow of patients through Emergency Departments and to maintain the flow of patients through the hospital in general. A huge achievement in a year full of challenges.

Scott Welpton, Director, Consultant Connect comments:

“It has been a pleasure working with Carl Holland (Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Northampton General Hospital) and his team and contribute to the huge efforts to keep the hospital flowing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The team started using the service in 2016 and to see service grow to encompass all specialties has been tremendous. The Trust continues to achieve positive results with the service, and not only did it help to decongest the hospital during the early stages of the pandemic, it continues to aid winter pressures. We are delighted to award them with ‘Best Response to COVID-19 for Elective Care’ and show our appreciation of their fantastic efforts throughout the year.”

Further information on the project:


2. Best Response to COVID-19: Urgent Care – Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, NHS Tayside

Earlier this month Ninewells Hospital was announced as a finalist for “Best Acute Sector Partnership with the NHS” alongside Consultant Connect at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2021. They have been selected in recognition of their outstanding dedication to improving healthcare by ‘Establishing a COVID-19 Assessment and Admissions Unit’.

This is a real achievement for both Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, NHS Tayside and Consultant Connect. This successful project has had a noticeable positive impact on both practitioners and patients within the healthcare industry. To date, the COVID-19 Advice Line in Tayside has taken over 4,000 calls from across the region, with 27% of the patients (where an outcome was recorded) not being referred to hospital.

Roger Tweedale, Director, Consultant Connect comments:

“It is no surprise to us that the Ninewells Hospital clinicians are being recognised nationally by the HSJ for the superb support that they provide to GP practices and Scottish Ambulance teams in dealing with COVID patients. In addition to this, we are delighted to announce that the team at Ninewells are also winners of the ‘Best Response to COVID-19 for Urgent Care’ via the Consultant Connect 2020 Awards. 

The Ninewells Hospital COVID-19 Advice Line went live within a few hours of commissioning and the results have been outstanding from the start. The service has been able to reduce COVID-related hospital admissions by improving the collaboration between GP practices, ambulance teams and secondary care. This is a very real and positive impact on patient care. We couldn’t be prouder to work alongside the fabulous clinical teams in Tayside.”

Further information on the project:


3. Best Response to COVID-19: Overall Response – North Central London ICS

North Central London ICS (NCL) has been very adaptive in its response to COVID-19. The original, pre-COVID plan had been to launch the Consultant Connect service with just a Cardiology A&G line, but they quickly adapted their objectives in the face of the Pandemic and launched at pace with 18 specialities in Enfield and Barnet localities.

This established a means for Primary Care in NCL to rapidly communicate and work with secondary care specialists at a critical time. The astonishing rate of GP uptake has resulted in benefits for thousands of patients who otherwise would have been placed on waiting lists or sent to hospital when an alternative was possible.

Jonathan Patrick, CEO, Consultant Connect comments:

“North Central London has been a shining example of the response to COVID-19 in 2020. Stephen Wells, Keith Spratt (Senior Programme Manager and Head of Contracts respectively at NCL) and their colleagues have worked tirelessly to build a service within a few months that would normally have taken years of effort. The engagement with clinicians, both GPs and specialists at the Royal Free and North Middlesex, has been enthusiastic and positive. Their rewards are a project with one of the highest rates of usage we have ever seen and universally positive feedback from users. Everyone involved deserves a standing ovation.”

Further project information:


4. Best Response to COVID-19: Dermatology – Derby and Derbyshire CCG

In April this year Derby and Derbyshire CCG, Joined Up Care Derbyshire (JUCD) Outpatient Modernisation Programme commissioned our Photo Advice & Guidance service for Dermatology to run alongside their wider Consultant Connect telephone advice project. Since then they have successfully dealt with 2,000 queries across the area, with a typical response time for a GP to receive Advice & Guidance from a local specialist being 6 hours, far quicker than the agreed standard of 3-5 working days. Hundreds of patients have avoided the need for a referral, impacting positively on patient flows during the major pressures of COVID-19.

Jonathan Patrick, CEO, Consultant Connect comments:

We have been so impressed by the uptake of our Photo Advice & Guidance service in the Derbyshire. I think the key to this has been thorough preparation before the service launched, with no stone left unturned in terms of clinical and management buy-in. There was a lot of discussion of what the “right” model was and the results suggest they found it! In fact, at University Hospitals Derby and Burton, the A&G service for adult lesions and rashes has proved so popular with clinicians that the Paediatric Dermatology team have also come on board to provide advice to clinicians via Consultant Connect too. This demonstrates a sustainable, scalable service that we believe is the future of dermatology in the NHS. Congratulations go to the lead consultant at UHDB, Tanya Bleiker, and her team and Karolina Nemeth at Chesterfield Royal, together with everyone else involved, for driving this forward.”

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