Regular readers will know that the Elective Care Transformation Team at NHS England is busy producing a series of handbooks to help Trusts and commissioners to manage rising demand across certain clinical specialties. We were delighted to be included in the gastro handbook back in July.
Earlier this week, NHS England published the second “wave” of handbooks. This time our data has been cited in both the dermatology and diabetes handbooks as proof that telephone advice & guidance works. You can access the handbooks on the NHSE website here:
We’re obviously delighted to be included in the “rethinking referrals” part of both handbooks. Specifically, our data is used in the section that recommends implementing advice & guidance because “we know it works”.
Both handbooks offer a lot of useful advice on how to set up an advice and guidance service. We would add the following tips:
- Try to give your clinicians a choice of how to access advice – all of our projects give a choice of immediate telephone advice through Consultant Connect or written advice through eRS;
- Where possible, any request for dermatology advice should be accompanied by an image. Our PhotoSAF Safe Clinical Photography function (on the Consultant Connect app) allows GPs to take IG-compliant photos on their mobile phones. Photos can be shared using our teledermatology “sharing” function or by eRS. In Leeds, PhotoSAF images have allowed a quarter of 2WW referrals to be discharged before the patient attended hospital.
- Gather data on advice & guidance and use it. For example, do the queries being raised by clinicians suggest that some training in certain areas could be useful? Does it look like you could do with some more ambulatory provision for certain conditions? Are high-referring practices making sufficient use of advice services?
- Once your service is up and running, keep adding to it and promoting it. The more (useful) services you offer, the more it will be used. The more you keep colleagues informed of the services available, again, the more it will be used.
- Finally, as well as agreeing what measures will gauge the success of the project, don’t forget to tell the best stories of patient care to users and patients. It can be difficult to get specific patient feedback, so work round this by asking clinicians to tell their best patient stories for case studies and videos.
Please get in touch with us on 01865 261467 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to hear more about how advice & guidance can be used to rethink referrals in your area.