Advice & Guidance/ Referral Management via Consultant Connect in NHS Milton Keynes CCG

Published: 21st March 2022
NHS England and NHS Improvement – East of England published a paper 'An overview of best practice: Primary Care' featuring case studies showcasing the examples of greater integration and innovation that have benefitted patients and healthcare professionals across the East of England. Consultant Connect is featured in this paper.
Advice & Guidance/ Referral Management via Consultant Connect in NHS Milton Keynes CCG - Consultant Connect

NHS England and NHS Improvement – East of England recently published ‘An overview of best practice: Primary Care’ and Consultant Connect is featured in this paper.


We’ve reproduced the Consultant Connect case studies and included contact details for each of the case studies following permission by NHS Milton Keynes CCG and NHS Bedfordshire CCG.


In Practice | Consultant Connect in NHS Milton Keynes CCG:

Advice & Guidance / Referral Management via Consultant Connect

Background and Purpose

Although there was an existing Advice & Guidance (A&G) service through e-RS in Milton Keynes it was not frequently used and response times were inconsistent, leading to missed opportunities to manage patients prior to referral. Telephone A&G existed informally and was reliant on historic relationships between GPs and Secondary Care consultants, leading to an inequitable service across the Milton Keynes area. As part of commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) the Consultant Connect A&G service was commissioned, currently covering 16 specialties, including adult mental health.


Key Aims

  • Create an equitable A&G service
  • Reduce onward referrals and non-emergency admissions to Secondary Care
  • Provide feedback to support GP education



Consultant Connect has been rolled out across 16 specialties in the Milton Keynes area. The system provides GPs with a single phone number to dial or they can use the Consultant Connect App to access all A&G pathways available.

Once they have selected the service required they will be put through to a consultant to discuss the case. These calls are recorded and linked to a patient’s NHS number for medico-legal purposes, however, the team are working with Consultant Connect to look at integrating this with SystmOne GP records. At the end of each call, GPs are asked to select the outcome of the call – onward referral / manage the patient within Primary Care with A&G received.

On the whole most A&G discussions last 2-3 minutes and the majority don’t require an onward referral following this, saving GP and Secondary Care time. Where possible, local consultants are used to provide A&G, however, a national pool of consultants can also be included in the rota to ensure the calls are answered in a timely way.



  • Deflection away from Secondary Care referral in 65-70% of cases
  • Improved relationships between Primary and Secondary Care
  • Enabled the CCG to gain an understanding of the trends around A&G requests so it can feed this into education programme planning
  • Particular benefits around mental health and paediatric management plans for patients
  • GPs feeling supported by their access to specialist consultants and better equipped to manage complex patients in the community


Next Steps

  • Develop a teledermatology service
  • Integrate Consultant Connect with SystmOne
  • Roll out across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICS (BLMK ICS)
  • Review how it could integrate with the Think 111 First programme


Related materials:

- Consultant Connect

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