Proven approaches to meet the NHS targets

  • Requirement: 16 advice and guidance requests / triages per 100 outpatient first attendance by March 2023
  • Requirement: expanding the uptake of PIFU to all major outpatient specialties, moving or discharging 5% of outpatient attendances to PIFU pathways by March 2023
  • Requirement: making teledermatology available as an option for clinicians in all providers receiving urgent cancer referrals.
  • Requirement: in line with the NHS Long Term Plan commitment, Acute, community, mental health and ambulance providers are required to meet a core level of digitisation by March 2025

We can help

The latest 2022/23 priorities and operational planning guidance confirms the ongoing need to restore services, meet new care demands, and reduce waiting lists built up from the pandemic.

The good news is systems using Consultant Connect are well placed to meet the requirements in several ways.

Outpatient transformation has been highlighted as essential for Elective Recovery through NHS operational planning guidance.

These proven and measurable approaches from Consultant Connect are already helping NHS areas meet the latest guidance:

Proven and measurable approaches from Consultant Connect are already helping NHS areas meet the latest guidance:

1. Enhanced Advice & Guidance

The requirement for the delivery of advice and guidance requests per 100 outpatient first attendances, or equivalent via other triage approaches is achievable by systems using Consultant Connect for Advice & Guidance. The Elective Recovery Outpatient Collection (EROC) codes have already been built into our Advice & Guidance solutions meaning Consultant Connect data can be directly submitted to NHSE as part of your EROC data set, removing any potential admin burden for the systems we work with.


For your Advice & Guidance service to work successfully the responding clinicians need to answer the requests. This may sound obvious, but no amount of encouraging clinicians to use Advice & Guidance can overcome an unreliable service. Local advice from a local clinician is always the best option, but, if a local clinician is not available systems have been using our switch on/switch off virtual NHS consultant service to answer calls and respond to written requests and ultimately free up local resources. Over 70% of calls to National Consultant Network clinicians result in the patient avoiding hospital.

2. Referral Triage

It’s well known that triaging all incoming referrals ensures the right pathways first time. But resourcing this approach can be tricky. Our Referral Triage service has been delighting systems with impressive results.


For example, Northampton General Hospital uses the service for its triage approach, and currently, 27% of referrals are being returned to GPs in primary care with advice. Around 20% of these referrals include a recommendation to arrange tests.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn (QEHKL) ran a pilot project focussing on the first outpatient’s waiting list for 1,000 Cardiology referrals, 25% of referrals were returned to GPs in primary care with advice, 29% of referrals were booked for diagnostics only. This represents a significant freeing up of outpatient capacity with over 50% of referrals reviewed not requiring a first outpatient appointment.


A Trust in the North of England has recently started using Referral Triage to reduce waiting lists in ENT and Urology. The early data shows just how much can be achieved in just a couple of weeks, with 27% of ENT referrals returned to GPs in primary care with advice and 25% of referrals in Urology returned to GPs in primary care with advice.

3. Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU)

Our Patient Initiated Follow Up Service (PIFU) reduces unnecessary visits to hospital, patient waiting times and releases the clinical teams to see patients in a more timely manner.


Streamlining PIFU pathways to Consultant Connect benefits commissioners, clinicians and patients as:

  • All calls are recorded and tracked for medical legal purposes
  • Clinicians can access call recordings and PID
  • Commissioners and administrations can access reports, including call outcomes (with all PID stripped out)
  • For patient photo advice – we currently sit alongside existing NHS email approaches, where patients send their photos in, and these photos are imported into the Consultant Connect system
  • Patients get instant reassurance and avoidance of stress or worry
  • Patients avoid unnecessary hosptial visits and long waits, they get the right care, faster


There is no doubt that this is the simplest, most effective way of delivering follow-up consultations where the clinician does not need to see the patient. Our PIFU services are being used successfully across the UK:

4. Teledermatology

Our teledermatology service has handled over 600,000 photos over the last 3 years. Primary care clinicians can use the PhotoSAF feature on the Consultant Connect App to share high-quality, IG secure images from a mobile phone directly with Consultant Dermatologists for Advice & Guidance. This helps to reduce unnecessary hospital visits and speed up patient care.

Dermatoscopes are also being used alongside the PhotoSAF feature. Once a dermatoscope is connected to a clinician’s smartphone, they can use the Consultant Connect App and tap the PhotoSAF icon to start taking IG secure dermatology photos. The PhotoSAF feature is also compatible when used with dermatoscopes for 2WW work.

Consolidating everything via Consultant Connect

Is your A&G activity data falling through the cracks?

Any activity that is taking place through other channels such as NHS email, switchboard, hotlines, or direct calls isn’t automatically submitted to system EROC – but did you know it could be? Moving these to Consultant Connect is easy and brings everything in one place, centralising the whole Advice & Guidance process, and benefiting all parties involved.

Contact us

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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