In September 2018 we announced that NHS Greenwich CCG and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust had just launched a new service to improve mental health care for Adults and Older Adults. At the time lain Dimond (now COO at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust) commented: “After careful research, we decided that the introduction of a Telephone Advice & Guidance service from Consultant Connect, would be the right solution to support our plans for improving mental health support locally.”
Both the CCG and Trust recognised their GPs needed more support for mental health patients and wanted a quick way of tackling this without involving great expense and time-consuming training. Because GPs can speak to a specialist whilst the patient is still with them (calls are answered in under a minute), it was expected that the number of unnecessary referrals would reduce, and the efficiency of service for patients needing more specialist treatment and care would be increased.
A total of 45 GP practices covering 300,000 patients participated in the initial roll out.
Project progress – nearly two years later
Since the initial rollout, the service has not only increased integration between primary and secondary care but has also resulted in 61% of calls avoiding a referral.*
We have recently been speaking to Dr Mohammed Al-Rawi (Consultant Psychiatrist) and Anna Dube (Primary Care Mental Health Nurse Specialist) to find out how they think Mental Health Telephone Advice & Guidance has helped patients.
“Consultant Connect has been a consolidating tool for the integration between Psychiatrists and GPs. This new cooperative relationship means better outcomes for the patients and it also reduces risks. It enhances the understanding of the work of both parties. I hope it will educate both Psychiatrists and GPs and will reduce the community mental health teams workload by dealing with the problems at the beginning.” Dr Mohammed Al-Rawi, Consultant Psychiatrist, East Greenwich ADAPT
“This is a simplified virtual healthcare approach that has come at the right time creating lines of communication, sharing of ideas and expertise to addressing the mental health needs of the patient for a positive patient experience, safety and quality of care .” Anna Dube, Primary Care Mental Health Nurse Specialist, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust
Further feedback about the service
“The benefits to the patient of the service is that they get a much quicker response or answer to their mental health needs.” Rachel Matheson, Service Manager, Mental Health (Older Adult)
“For the patient, I think it makes them feel that their GP is managing their issues. A lot of patients don’t necessarily want to be referred to mental health services, unfortunately there’s still a stigma around that. And I think they feel that if they can stay with their GP and have the GP manage their issues and manage their mental health needs then that’s a good thing.” Elaine Newman, Community Manager, Greenwich Older Adults Mental Health Services
“Consultant Connect is such a win-win in terms of a GP can now ring Consultant Connect while the patient’s in the consulting room, get that advice and guidance straight away and start that treatment regime straightaway. You could knock out maybe three months of unnecessary waiting for that patient and then an unnecessary trip to the hospital as well.” Irene Grayson, Associate Director Primary Care Commissioning, NHS Greenwich CCG
Mental Health Telephone Advice & Guidance in other areas
Consultant Connect is currently working with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to offer Mental Health Medication Telephone Advice & Guidance to GPs across different areas of the UK. We recently spoke to both Dr Anne Connolly, Principle Pharmacist for Medicines Information.
“Telephone Advice & Guidance gives GPs rapid access to experts in the use of psychotropic medicines. This expertise has been established through research and clinical experience. In addition, clear, evidence-based information is provided immediately for most enquiries and primary care clinicians have the ability to speak to someone directly rather than to email or write for advice. When a patient’s referral to secondary care has been rejected, we can also give expert advice on the patient’s management.” Dr Anne Connolly
Read the case study here.
*Based on call outcome data provided by clinicians (as of August 2020).