Improving the care of gynaecology patients and those with menopause symptoms

Published: 24th October 2023
Following World Menopause Day on 18th October, we share how we can improve the well-being of gynaecology patients and those experiencing menopause symptoms.
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Last week, the NHS celebrated World Menopause Day on 18th October to continue raising awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding menopause.

At Consultant Connect, we are dedicated to supporting clinicians in ensuring the best care for patients and below are a few examples of how our services can improve the health and well-being of gynaecology patients and those experiencing menopause symptoms:

1. Triaging a backlog of gynaecology referrals to identify important upgrades and downgrades

Our Referral Triage and Validation service uses the expertise of NHS consultants on the National Consultant Network (NCN) to remotely triage waiting list backlogs in bulk and/or new referrals as they come in. With a variety of specialties available, our service helps to ensure patients are seen in the most appropriate way.


In July 2022, a Referral Triage project at the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire was set up due to a backlog of gynaecology referrals. Under the leadership of local clinical leads and following local pathways and protocols, the out-of-area NHS consultants triaged over 2,800 referrals. The outcomes* showed that of those referrals, only 49% of patients needed to remain on the waiting list to be seen by a specialist. The remaining 51% were deemed suitable for treatment on alternative pathways and so were returned to Primary Care with detailed and thorough Advice & Guidance for patient management.


Of the 49% on the waiting list, 35% required a routine referral, with a further 2% upgraded to an urgent pathway and 7% upgraded to a two-week wait (2WW) pathway. This meant that those patients not requiring a specialist opinion were returned to their referring provider with a comprehensive management plan, but in addition, upgrades were quickly identified and prioritised. This ensured that all patients were on the correct pathways, allowing for the fastest and best treatment.


I find that about a quarter of the patients who have been referred to hospital don’t need to go there – and that saves a lot of capacity. There are a small number of people sitting on the waiting list who need to be treated urgently. Getting the opportunity to review them means they get seen quicker.’

– Mr Eric Mutema, NHS Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist triaging and validating referrals via the service.


* Due to rounding, the sum may not equal 100%

2. Validating gynaecology referrals to ensure patients are on the correct pathways

In addition to triaging backlogs of referrals, our Referral Triage and Validation service can also be used to remotely review and validate referrals and follow-up lists to ensure patients are seen or discharged in the most suitable care setting.


As part of the ongoing project at the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire, more than 1,300 gynaecology referrals were validated by NHS consultants on the NCN. Outcomes* showed that 22% of referrals were categorised as suitable for a Primary Care Gynaecology Pathway run by GPs with an Extended Role (GPwER). Furthermore, 5% were returned to their Primary Care provider with extensive Advice & Guidance for ongoing management.

Of the 66% of referrals that required an outpatient appointment with a specialist, 10% were upgraded to an urgent or 2WW appointment, meaning 56% could await a routine appointment with a specialist.


As a result of the project, a high volume of referrals was quickly managed, with the added reassurance that all patients were on the most appropriate pathway for them whilst aligning with local services in the area.


* Due to rounding, the sum may not equal 100%


3. Quickly connecting clinicians with specialists for Gynaecology Advice & Guidance

In the last 12 months across Coventry and Warwickshire ICB, over 700 calls have been made to local gynaecology specialists for rapid Advice & Guidance, with a first-time answer rate of 75%.


On average, calls last less than three minutes and are answered within 40 seconds, allowing clinicians to form management plans for their patients quickly, often during the appointment with the patient present. This allows patients to become more involved in their care whilst improving relationships between Primary and Secondary Care clinicians.


With 63% of calls* resulting in patients avoiding an unnecessary referral or admission, specialist outpatient appointment slots are freed up for those who need them. As more patients are treated in the community where appropriate, Enhanced Advice & Guidance is helping more individuals commence treatment without waiting for an initial specialist appointment.


* where an outcome was left


4. Providing rapidly accessible Menopause Advice & Guidance throughout the UK

Introduced in June 2023, the Menopause Advice & Guidance line was launched following a discussion where it was discovered that a vast majority of unnecessary gynaecology referrals relate to menopause. This meant that Trusts weren’t seeing patients who needed to be seen, and patients with menopause symptoms were on waiting lists for a prolonged duration without interim management plans.

Following this, the Menopause Advice & Guidance line was launched across multiple Consultant Connect projects, providing clinicians with access to rapid advice from out-of-area NHS consultant gynaecologists on the NCN.


In the four months since launch, the service has seen an 86% first-time answer rate, with calls, on average, answered within 22 seconds. 89% of calls* made have resulted in patients avoiding unnecessary admissions or referrals. This meant that those experiencing menopause-related symptoms who didn’t require specialist input were put onto a rapid management plan within the community, reducing the number of unnecessary referrals to Secondary Care.


* where an outcome was left

Statistics correct as of October 2023.


If you would like to discuss how any of the services mentioned can support gynaecology and menopause patients in your area, please email or call us on 01865 261 467.


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