Frequently Asked Questions Part 2 – Hospital Trusts

Published: 27th April 2016

Part 2 in our series of FAQS covers the questions most commonly asked by Hospital Trusts – you can see part 1 here: Frequently Asked Questions Part 1 – CCGs


Will Consultant Connect lead to empty clinics?

No. Consultant Connect is used by GPs to get Advice & Guidance from expert clinicians when they are not sure whether they should refer or not. GPs do not call about referrals they are certain about – which are the majority of referrals.

The impact of Consultant Connect, though, is a reduction in demand due to the weeding out of unnecessary referrals – c.65% of calls result in a patient avoiding an unnecessary trip to hospital. This means that waiting lists can be reduced and consultants will spend more time in consultations with patients they need to see.

Does the Trust get paid for offering telephone Advice & Guidance?

The answer to this depends on what arrangements you make with your local CCG, but we are able to advise on what happens in other parts of the country.

The most common arrangement is that, for a pilot period, the CCG pays for Consultant Connect’s fees whilst the hospital does not charge for consultant advice. This is a sensible starting point as it allows both CCG and Trust to get an idea of the volume of calls that the service will generate, together with the benefits of running the service. Once these things are understood it is easier to discuss how costs are allocated and benefits shared.

Will we have to change our clinicians’ job plans or have them sat at a desk waiting for a phone to ring?

No. Consultant Connect is designed to rely on a rota of consultants at work – and this means that some of them may not be able to answer at a particular point in time as they are busy on ward rounds or in consultations. Some consultants, though, will be able to take a call and we encourage them to do so. This approach has been very successful to date, with 80 – 90% of calls being answered across the country.

Having said that, Consultant Connect can also incorporate hotlines and clinical sessions where resource has been set aside for Advice & Guidance. We can advise on the best way to do this and have seen significantly improved uptake of such arrangements, as well as the improved information governance and reporting that is built into Consultant Connect.

How do we get our consultants to participate?

Although we require the support of senior management at any Trust before we try to get teams onboard, we are happy to engage with consultants to encourage them to give Consultant Connect a try. We ask the Trust and CCG to identify between 6 and 8 clinical teams and we then offer those clinicians demonstrations, phone calls and references from similar specialties at other Trusts.

The general rule is that, if we speak with 6 – 8 specialties, 2 will be ready to go on the Consultant Connect system within a month – and that is enough to launch a project. Other specialties will come on board after launch.

Which specialties should we choose?

This depends on what you are trying to achieve – for example, you may choose specialties where there is pressure to reduce waiting lists or specialties where we have seen a very effective reduction in unnecessary referrals as a direct consequence of the use of Consultant Connect. We are happy to advise according to your specific local needs.

What we would advise is that there is no substitute for enthusiasm – if you have clinical teams that are keen to try new ways of working and who believe telephone Advice & Guidance is a good idea for their specialty, that specialty will be a success. You probably know which teams fit this description already.

Do you work for a Trust? Are there any other questions you have? If so, please get in touch on 01865 261451 or by emailing and we’ll be pleased to answer.

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For more information about how we work with commissioners, hospitals & mental health trusts to improve patient care, please get in touch.

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