Keeping children out of hospital

Published: 30th June 2021
A&E attendances are running well above seasonal levels in many hospitals and there’s now a real risk of a surge in respiratory viruses in autumn affecting young children. Keeping children out of hospital can start from outside of A&E.
5 minutes with… a Paediatric Consultant - Consultant Connect

For paediatric urgent care, there is no substitute for immediate specialist advice over the telephone if you are thinking of sending a patient in as an emergency.

NHS Luton & Dunstable Hospital use Consultant Connect to operate an Urgent Paediatric Advice & Guidance line. GPs can use the line for urgent Advice & Guidance and direct referrals into the Paediatric Assessment Unit. That 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.  It’s a successful approach – recent project data, where outcomes have been reported, shows that 64% of cases are navigated for same-day urgent assessment, rather than going to A&E, the average answer time is just 17 seconds with calls being connected first time for 98% of calls.

A paediatric consultant in another part of the UK told us:

‘We operate an Urgent Paediatric Advice & Guidance Line and an Outpatient Advice & Guidance Line via Consultant Connect. For urgent care, I see Consultant Connect as a partnership between us and Primary Care where we can provide urgent advice without the child necessarily needing to be seen on the day. Before this service, there wasn’t a quick line of communication.’

Dr Tariq Bhatti is a Paediatric Consultant at NHS Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in Surrey.  He is on a rota of consultants answering calls from local clinicians.

‘We use the Consultant Connect service to help manage patients in the Primary Care setting, rather than making a referral to A&E where appropriate. We have also helped with a number of queries related to children with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., COVID toes, tiredness etc).’

Dr Margaret Kalilani-Themuka, a GP in Milton Keynes told us about a baby who presented with low oxygen saturation:

‘I decided to discuss my findings using Consultant Connect App with a paediatrician who immediately told me to send the child in. The child ended up in hospital for four days and was treated for the infection on-site. The point is, apart from the low sats, the baby was as good as normal. Using Telephone Advice & Guidance that day was crucial. If I hadn’t had the conversation with the specialist, it’s very likely that the baby would have ended up as a 999 call from home later.’

Dr Diane Fitzsimmons is a GP in Derbyshire and helped a young patient recently with severe constipation using rapid Advice & Guidance via Consultant Connect:

‘It is really simple and effective to get rapid advice to prevent a referral or admission.’

  If you would like to discuss how we can help your NHS area, please contact us: or 01865 261 467.
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