SE London Enhanced A&G project “comes into its own” during COVID-19

Published: 29th September 2020
What's the impact, one year on, of using Consultant Connect with e-RS for South East London CCGs? This "enhanced" advice and guidance approach has continued to reduce GP referrals whilst supporting clinicians during the pandemic.

In this article, we take a look at how our project in South East London CCG has expanded since we first wrote about it on this blog this time last year. Plus David Reith, Associated Director for Planned Care Improvement at South East London CCG shares his feedback.

South East London CCG comprises six London boroughs;  Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark. For the Advice & Guidance service, there are five participating Trusts – Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT), King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KCH), Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust  (LGT), Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

At the time the six CCGs that make up the South East London STP were facing the challenge of increasing unnecessary referrals from primary care  – a problem that was then common across the country.

The CCG made the decision to supplement their e-RS advice service with Consultant Connect’s immediate Telephone Advice & Guidance. This gave GPs the additional option of an immediate conversation with a specialist, often during the patient consultation.

The CCG also decided to use the National Consultant Network as a back-up for answering A&G calls in some specialties. This meant that, if local consultants were not able to answer a call, it was put through to a non-local NHS consultant to give them advice. This ensured answer rates were high, a fact much appreciated by GPs. The impact of this “enhanced” advice and guidance project was to reduce referrals. SE London reviewed the “enhanced” advice and guidance project’s performance and impact over the year to end June 2019 and reported on it to NHS England. 

Since September 2019 the CCG has continued to expand the project to maximise its impact.

  •  GPs now have access to over 50 NHS specialties across Elective, Urgent and Mental Health.
  • Wider usage of the PhotoSAF on the Consultant Connect App.  PhotoSAF allows GPs to take photos in an IG compliant way, and for them to be attached to patient records, referrals and e-RS advice and guidance requests. It is also allowing GPs in SE London to share photos directly with teams of dermatologists, who are able to offer advice in only a few hours.
  • As a direct response to COVID-19, Respiratory Medicine was added to the service with GSTT, KCH, and LGT all providing separate advice lines. 210 calls have been placed to Respiratory Medicine since the beginning of COVID-19, and outcomes indicate a 47% referral avoidance rate.

We had long felt the benefits of Consultant Connect, but with COVID-19 it has really come into its own! We rapidly increased the number of specialties available on the service to ensure that GPs could get as much support as possible from secondary care colleagues, and keep patients out of hospital wherever appropriate. The feedback that we have had from both Consultant teams and GPs has been overwhelmingly positive, with relationships between staff across the system being strengthened. David Reith, Associate Director – Planned Care Improvement, SE London CCG




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