In practice: quick ways to respond to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, the NHS has modernised faster and more profoundly than at any time in its history. The technologies it has adopted are being applied to the continued challenges we face. Below are 8 examples of how we are helping with the recovery of services in NHS areas. Our solutions are now covering 29 million patients and are fully IG-compliant and auditable. Some approaches can be rolled out in as little as 72 hours meaning they will make an impact this winter. Read how this area fast-tracked their project at the start of the pandemic. 

1. Enhanced Advice and Guidance 

…in Elective Care


“We had long felt the benefits of Consultant Connect, but with COVID-19 it has really come into its own! We rapidly increased the number of specialties available on the service to ensure that GPs could get as much support as possible from secondary care colleagues, and keep patients out of hospital wherever appropriate. The feedback that we have had from both Consultant teams and GPs has been overwhelmingly positive, with relationships between staff across the system being strengthened.“ Read more.






…in Urgent Care


“We quickly recognised that we would need to deliver separate streams of assessment and admission for non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 possible patients. This led to the rapid establishment of a dedicated COVID-19 Assessment Unit on our main hospital site and Consultant Connect were able at short notice to provide a COVID-19 Advice Line.” Read more.

2. National Consultant Network…

…for advice when there’s no local option

4 NHS areas have one thing in common – they’ve all made it radically quicker and easier for clinicians to get specialist advice despite the pandemic by using out-of-area NHS consultants. Read more.



3. National Consultant Network…

…for Referral Backlog Triage

The backlog in demand will stretch clinical capacity to breaking point. Consultant Connect can provide extra NHS consultant-level support. In one area NCN consultants have reviewed 4,450 referrals in just 3 weeks. For more information, click here. You can also take a look at our FAQs for this service here.

Here’s some feedback from the National Consultant Network consultants doing this work:

“The opportunities for the NHS are shorter waiting lists at the hospitals – what’s not to like about that!”

“I think that sometimes GPs can be unsure of whether someone needs to be seen in a hospital clinic, but refer them on as a safety net. The cases like this, I have viewed, are especially suitable for A&G as re-assurance to the GP (and patient) can be given by an NHS consultant with a name attached.”

“A number of referrals were identified to be re-triaged into another department in the hospital, saving an unnecessary first outpatient appointment.”

4. Photo Messaging across multiple specialties

We can provide you with proven solutions around photos and images, supporting community-based clinicians who are seeing patients with decision making and reducing the requirement to needlessly call patients back in. Successful projects have been established in many specialties including:

Ophthalmology – “I have found the Consultant Connect App particularly helpful during the current Coronavirus situation where our usual referral pathways have been disrupted; enabling me to reduce unnecessary strain upon our hospital eye service.”  Read the case study.

Dermatology – “A patient’s skin lesion had become inflamed with brown pigmentation and she was concerned about the possibility that it was cancerous. I asked the patient if she would be happy to send photographs of the skin lesion for me to review.Read the case study.

Cardiology – “Often there may be subtle changes that we might flag as possibly significant but are uncertain without specialist review. The app allows specialists to review quickly and avoids unnecessary admissions being required.” Read the case study.

5. Safe Early Discharge


“The COVID Discharge Guidance (March 2020) advised the Acute Trusts to have a ‘safety net’ for patients being discharged. A discussion with Consultant Connect one day explaining what we required… resulted in the Discharge Advice Line (DAL) being operational the very next day!” Read more.

6. Mental Health

The backlog in demand is felt across all of care, not just physical care services. Providing clinicians with better access to Mental Health advice can help manage demand to secondary care referrals. This physical health advice project has achieved a referral avoidance rate of 65% in just 3 months since launch. Read more. 

Blog article: Supporting Mental Health patients during a Pandemic.

7. Community Users (incl. Care Homes)

Health and care workers supporting mental health patients, those in care homes and housebound or homeless patients have the support of a direct and rapid advice and guidance contact line. “Feedback so far has been very positive.” Read more.

8. Remote Working / Quarantined Clinicians

“Due to shielding requirements, some of the GPL team were unable to work from the office but have since March been able to work from home without many of our primary care colleagues being aware. The service has consequently been maintained throughout the pandemic without any interruption at all.” Read more.

Many consultants have been working from home to answer GP calls via the NCN since the pandemic started. We spoke to a cardiologist who described the experience as “fascinating and interesting.” Watch this short video about his experience.

WEBINAR RECORDING | If you’d like to find out how many of the above could work in your NHS area, you can listen to the recording of our webinar: Using Consultant Connect to deal with COVID-19; Your Questions Answered.

Alternatively, please call us on 01865 261467 or email

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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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