Professional-to-professional clinical decisions provided by Consultant Connect has been available to clinicians in Tayside for 5 years, supporting them in caring for their patients.
Guidance is available from local specialists by calling a single number, either via the pre-programmed Consultant Connect App or a Dial-In Number from any phone. All calls are recorded, giving a real-time record of the advice that was given, improving safety and governance. The free app also allows clinicians to take photographs on their personal devices in a safe and IG-compliant way, which can then be attached to the patient’s record.
‘Not everyone should be attending the emergency department, but not everyone knows what else is available out-of-hours. For example, NHS 24, GP out-of-hours services, and pharmacists. The emergency department isn’t the general answer to all complaints – it’s not there for “convenience”. We try to direct patients so that they see the right person, in the right place, at the right time. The last time I held the phone, when I took the third call in two hours, I realised that this was the third person who wasn’t being admitted, which is a real result.’
– Dr Ron Cook, Emergency Medicine Consultant and Clinical Care Group Director for Urgent Care in NHS Tayside.
In Tayside, in the last 12 months, 44% of calls to acute specialties have resulted in the patient avoiding a trip to hospital, and instead being signposted to the right community or hospital facility. Feedback from users has been positive. In a HSJ article, Dr Rod Fleming, a GP in Erskine Practice, stated that prof-to-prof clinical advice proved a useful source of support, citing a case where a young mum had attended the surgery with an upper respiratory tract infection and a pain in her upper left side:
‘I wanted to get a chest x-ray, but we wouldn’t have received the report for 7-10 days. I spoke to an AMU consultant who agreed to look at the x-ray as soon as it was carried out and speak to the patient via phone. The patient was prescribed antibiotics in case of pneumonia, which is what it turned out to be. It saved her from attending Ninewells Hospital and meant she could stay at home. This was good for the patient and her family, but also for the health service as it meant she was managed in the community.’
In a HSJ article, Keith Dickinson, a Paramedic for Scottish Ambulance Service Trust, attended a patient whom he suspected had a strangulated hernia, requiring immediate surgery in the region’s biggest hospital: Ninewells.
Under local guidelines, ambulance staff are supposed to convey surgical patients to Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI) for assessment:
‘The situation was time-critical, and I needed to request permission to bypass PRI and take the patient straight to Ninewells. I used Consultant Connect to ring through to a senior consultant at Ninewells and share my concerns. We agreed to bypass Perth and convey straight to Ninewells, which meant the patient could be seen and treated more quickly. As paramedics, we have a lot of experience in assessing patients, but it is reassuring to know we have a strong support network in place. It’s good to be able to get straight through to a senior doctor who understands the geography, the challenges of the environment, local guidelines and the skills and treatments we can offer.’
Consultant Connect is also available to clinicians in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire Health Boards:
In the last year, across the three health boards, over 70,000 calls have been placed to more than 40 specialties. Approximately 25% of calls to elective care resulted in patients avoiding an unnecessary trip to hospital.*
To find out more about how Consultant Connect is being used in Scotland, click here.
If you would like to discuss how Consultant Connect services can support your area, please contact us 01865 261467 or email email@example.com.
* For calls where an outcome was recorded.