Advice from Emergency Consultants one phone call away – NHS Tayside Health Board a year on

Published: 5th November 2019
Since October 2018, GPs, Paramedics and Junior Doctors in Tayside were given access to immediate telephone advice & guidance from Emergency Consultants at Ninewells Hospital. How has the service been performing and what has the feedback been?

A year after launching their project in October 2018, we are delighted to share that NHS Tayside Health Board have renewed their contract with us.

Consultant Connect enables GPs, Paramedics and Junior Doctors to have access to immediate Telephone Advice & Guidance from Emergency Department consultants in Acute Medicine, Emergency Medicine and Stroke Medicine, at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

Junior Doctors at the Perth Royal Infirmary are also able to use Consultant Connect to seek advice from a consultant out-of-hours.

In a recent interview conducted for the HSJ, Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr Ron Cook, who is also Clinical Care Group Director for Unscheduled Medicine at NHS Tayside, explained it’s about ensuring patients are treated in the best place for them:

“Not everyone should be attending the emergency department, but not everyone knows what else if 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.”  Read Dr Cook’s recent presentation.

So, how has the service been performing and what has the feedback been?

Since October 2018 over 12,000 calls have been connected via the service with an average connection time of 25 seconds. On average, across all 3 specialities offered, 45% of calls with a reported outcome resulted in the patient avoiding an unnecessary admission.    


 The following outcome data is correct from October 2018 to October 2019:

Dr Ron Cook recently delivered a presentation on the project to medics and leaders at Glasgow Unscheduled Care Learning Event, October 2019 – click here to view the presentation.

Clinicians find the service a useful source of support. Feedback has been positive both from clinicians making the advice calls and those answering them:


Ambulance Paramedic calls to ED

“We can access senior advice from a single source that understands the challenges of our environment, distances from available hospitals, our guidelines, and what skills and drugs we have available.” Keith Dickinson, Paramedic at the Scottish Ambulance Service. Read his case study.

Michael Muir, Clinical Stroke Lead and Paramedic at the Scottish Ambulance Service. finds that Phone Advice & Guidance via Consultant Connect is a better tool as: “Calls are recorded and there are multiple people on the phone rota if others are busy and you can access multiple departments within the hospital without having to look up contacts or numbers on your phone.”. Read his case study.

GPs to specialists

“It’s very useful to use to get advice on any patient who you think may or may not need an admission and/or who may benefit from a specialist opinion.” Dr Rod Fleming, GP at Erskine Practice. Read his case study.

Internal Medics calls to ED

Dr Julie Ronald Clinical Lead for Emergency Medicine at Ninewells Hospital explains that consultants also provide more general advice to Junior Doctors via Consultant Connect, covering aspects such as “how to manage a patient, remote review of X-rays and which specialty a patient should be referred to.” She adds that Junior Doctors “are able to do all of this with the knowledge that calls are recorded, so if ever required, we are able to identify and interrogate calls via the Consultant Connect system.” Read her case study.

Related articles
More information

If you have any questions about this project or how our service could be implemented in your area, email or 01865261467.

Contact us

For more information about how we work with commissioners, hospitals & mental health trusts to improve patient care, please get in touch.

Join a webinar

Listen to health experts from the comfort of your desk as we bring the experts to you in our series of online webinars.

Join our mailing list

Join our mailing list and we'll keep you informed of our latest blogs, project news, and upcoming webinar dates and topics.