The Times reported this week that the number of patients with neurological conditions forced to wait more than a year has increased by more than 5,000 per cent. The new NHS figures have been analysed by the Neurological Alliance, a coalition of more than 80 health charities and specialist organisations supporting people with neurological conditions. The alliance confirms that about one in six people in England have a neurological condition with around 600k new cases being reported each year.
However, there has been a dearth of specialists in the field for years with acute hospitals often only having access to a neurologist on three or fewer days each week. We need more neurologists, we need them to be able to work efficiently, and we need them now. How can Consultant Connect help?
1) Start with supporting primary care
The National Consultant Network – which is run by Consultant Connect – takes advantage of the fact that NHS neurologists on the network can answer Telephone Advice & Guidance calls from GPs anywhere. It doesn’t matter where the advising consultant is based. You can make up for local shortages with available national clinicians. For example, if you’re a GP based in Manchester, you can speak to a neurologist based in London. The National Consultant Network service is available Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday, 9am-5pm.
Dr Praveen Tatavarthi a GP in North East Essex shares his experience:
“I used Consultant Connect to get specialist telephone advice for an 88-year-old patient who suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia. I was connected to a neurologist from outside of our area. He was extremely helpful.” Read the case study.
2) Set up a Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) service
The Times article included a heart-breaking quote from a female patient aged 38, who was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2009. She suffered adverse effects after starting a new treatment just before the pandemic hit, then was unable to talk to her neurology team. “Every day I’d be in tears trying to get in touch with my MS consultant or someone in my MS team. I lost count of the number of times I tried to call and email.”
To avoid this scenario in your area, you can use the Consultant Connect platform to set up a PIFU service for patients with neurological conditions. It is as straightforward as you would expect from Consultant Connect, with two pathway options – click here to download the PDF.
A PIFU service is designed for patients following surgery or treatment to allow them to access clinical teams if they feel they need to rather than having a prearranged or regularly scheduled appointment.
3) Use ‘Virtual’ NHS neurology consultants to deal with referrals as they come in and/or review your neurology backlog and re-prioritise
The ‘virtual’ NHS neurology consultants from our National Consultant Network are available to work through backlogs in bulk or deal with new neurology referrals as they come in.
The ‘virtual’ NHS neurology consultants can look at whether the patients waiting still needed to be seen; if they need to be seen in acute care, if they could be managed through primary care, if they need diagnostics before coming to acute care, etc.
Northampton General Hospital are using this service very successfully for Cardiology – read the case study.
For more information on how we can help your area, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01865 261 467.