The Dentistry Project that is streamlining patient care in Swansea Bay

Published: 2nd May 2023
Expert Advice & Guidance in bridging the gap between Primary care clinicians, and specialists in orthodontics and restorative dentistry in first-of-it's-kind project
The Dentistry Project That Is Streamlining Patient Care In Swansea Bay Consultant Connect

The partnership between Consultant Connect and Swansea Bay University Health Board has recently been featured in the Welsh NHS Confederation Good Practice Briefing (see page 12) ,which highlights examples of work being done by NHS organisations across Wales to develop primary and community care services and support integration.

The first-of-its-kind project connects dentists and Primary Care clinicians with specialists in orthodontics and restorative dentistry for expert Advice & Guidance. Available since 2022, so far healthcare professionals within 19 General Dental Services have signed up to use the service.

‘We get rapid responses to our queries – usually within a day. This prevents delay and allows us to keep patients quickly informed on their treatment, reducing patient queries and pressure on the practice reception with phone queries.’

‘We can also download the full Advice & Guidance conversation (messages and attachments) to include in the patient clinical records. This means if the patient is seen by another dental professional, they can easily see the conversation that was had and the outcome/management plan.’ – Dr Ewart Johnstone, Dental Practitioner with Special Interest in Orthodontics in Gwaun Cae Gurwen Dental Practice.

Supporting joined-up care and allowing healthcare professionals to decide together whether patients require treatment in a hospital setting, clinicians can securely send Messaging Advice & Guidance requests to specialists and include images and other personal information. Specialists can provide advice and support on treatment options or signpost to the most appropriate services, when necessary. 60%* of queries received via this route so far have avoided an unnecessary referral.

‘Consultant Connect is great because we’re able to have a conversation with our colleagues, which often ends up saving a lot of worry and time, both for them and their patients. The service is of huge benefit to patients. Being able to advise on orthodontic treatment plans means the dentist can begin certain cases much sooner. Because of recent pressures, patients would have been waiting around 12-18 months before being assessed by us.’ – Meryl Spencer, Consultant Orthodontist at Morriston Hospital.

Managing Advice & Guidance requests in this way helps to prioritise patients who may need to be seen more urgently, whilst decreasing the wait for those who may require advice only. Additionally, this method ensures that patients are seen by the most appropriate clinician for their care.

And because of this, the restorative dental department has achieved a 43% reduction in referrals for patients discussed via Consultant Connect.

‘There is not normally a way to share imagery and files between clinicians and specialists. Often a patient will be referred when in reality a quick conversation or review of an image could prevent that. The app helps staff to triage and hopefully improves patient management in the most appropriate setting.’ – Karl Bishop, Swansea UHB Dental Director.

* Data correct as of March 2023.

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