One of the main challenges currently facing children and young people is significant backlogs in paediatric elective care. Long waits are likely to:
- Worry/stress them and their families.
- Impact their ability to access education and lead full and active lives.
As the NHS boosts paediatric care and launches a new national early warning system for clinicians seeing Children and Young People (CYP), we share how our services are being used to support CYP services. Consultant Connect is being used to support clinicians seeing children and young people in a variety of ways. Some examples include:
1. Triaging paediatric waiting lists
Triaging referrals allows a clinician to provide a management plan for some referrals ahead of an appointment which delivers faster assurance for children and their carers. For all other referrals, it ensures they are going down the correct pathway and that the most urgent cases are seen first. Local resources to deliver this service can be short.
In Buckinghamshire, for example, due to a significant backlog of patients awaiting a community paediatrics appointment, a Referral Triage and Validation project was initiated via Consultant Connect. An out-of-area NHS Consultant Paediatrician, who is part of Consultant Connect’s National Consultant Network (NCN), was brought on board to triage the caseload and reduce the clinical risk. The consultant is briefed on local pathway criteria and delivers this work under the leadership of the local clinical lead.
- 42.7% of those triaged have been returned to the referring clinician with thorough advice and guidance and a comprehensive patient management plan. This ensures that patients are seen or referred back in the most appropriate manner to the right service, reserving appointments for those who need them.
- The remaining 57.3% of referrals have been booked into routine appointments with the local community paediatrics team, and their urgency was determined.
2. Easing anxiety for suspected child cancer diagnosis patients and their families
In Coventry and Warwickshire, children with cancer symptoms are being diagnosed faster thanks to ground-breaking telemedicine technology and better guidelines – easing the anxiety for them and their families. The service, which was set up in just two weeks, enables GPs to call consultants at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust when seeing children with suspected cancer.
- Two in five of all calls between GPs and consultants led to the patient and their family finding out in the GP’s surgery that they didn’t have cancer, resolving an otherwise anxious wait.
- But young patients with symptoms that consultants are concerned about are fast-tracked for specialist treatment.
- If an urgent referral is advised, clinicians use Consultant Connect to send a Messaging Advice & Guidance request. Messages are responded to within 3h30 on average.
*Data for calls with reported outcomes, between November 2021 – November 2023.
3. Directing paediatric referrals to the right place, first time
NHS Luton & Dunstable Hospital use Consultant Connect to operate an Urgent Paediatric Advice & Guidance Line. GPs use the line for urgent Advice & Guidance and direct referrals to the Paediatric Assessment Unit. This allows the hospital to know what’s coming and why but also makes sure it is the best place for the patient to be. The team also facilitate community alternatives when appropriate.
- 61% of cases are navigated for same-day urgent assessment rather than going to A&E.
- 50% of cases avoid an unnecessary referral and are managed in Primary Care with Advice & Guidance.
- 11% of cases are booked in for a routine referral and/or diagnostics.
- The average answer time is just 16 seconds, with calls being connected first time for 98% of calls.
*Data for calls with reported outcomes, between November 2022 – November 2023.
4. Managing local demand
For areas with local paediatric clinical capacity challenges, our National Consultant Network, comprising NHS consultants, can answer pre-referral advice and guidance calls and/or review photo and message requests. The service can be switched on in 24-48 hours and switched off that quickly when it’s no longer needed. This service can operate on a standalone basis in areas where there is no local coverage or act as a backup to local teams at times they are not available.
- 68% of calls, on average, result in the patient no longer needing to attend hospital.
For more information, get in touch:
If you have any questions, or would like to find out how our services can help Children and Young People in your area, email email@example.com, call us on 01865 261 467 or fill in the short form below to request a call back from the team: