In September 2018 we announced that NHS Greenwich CCG and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust had just launched a new service to improve mental health care for Adults and Older Adults. At the time lain Dimond (now COO at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust) commented: “After careful research, we decided that the introduction of a Phone Advice & Guidance service from Consultant Connect, would be the right solution to support our plans for improving mental health support locally.”
Both the CCG and Trust recognised their GPs needed more support for mental health patients (a third of all GP consultations involve mental health) but wanted a quick way of tackling this without involving great expense and time-consuming training. Because GPs can speak to a specialist whilst the patient is still with them (calls are answered in under a minute), it was expected that the number of unnecessary referrals would reduce, and the efficiency of service for patients needing more specialist treatment and care would be increased.
A total of 45 GP practices covering 300,000 patients participated in the initial roll out.
Project progress – eleven months later
Since the initial rollout, the service has not only increased integration between primary and secondary care but has also resulted in 48% of calls avoiding a referral*. Because of the success of the service, Oxleas have now rolled out a similar service to cover Bromley GPs.
“The benefits to the patient of the service is that they get a much quicker response or answer to their mental health needs.” Rachel Matheson, Service Manager, Mental Health (Older Adult)
“For the patient, I think it makes them feel that their GP is managing their issues. A lot of patients don’t necessarily want to be referred to mental health services, unfortunately there’s still a stigma around that. And I think they feel that if they can stay with their GP and have the GP manage their issues and manage their mental health needs then that’s a good thing.” Elaine Newman, Community Manager, Greenwich Older Adults Mental Health Services
“Consultant Connect is such a win-win in terms of a GP can now ring Consultant Connect while the patient’s in the consulting room, get that advice and guidance straightaway and start that treatment regime straightaway. You could knock out maybe three months of unnecessary waiting for that patient and then an unnecessary trip to the hospital as well.” Irene Grayson, Associate Director Primary Care Commissioning, NHS Greenwich CCG