Advice from Emergency Consultants one phone call away – NHS Tayside Health Board five years on

Published: 22nd June 2023
Since October 2018, GPs, Paramedics and Junior Doctors in Tayside were given access to rapid prof-to-prof clinical decisions via Consultant Connect from Consultants at Ninewells Hospital. How has the service been performing and what has the feedback been?
Advice from Emergency Consultants one phone call away – NHS Tayside Health Board three years on - Consultant Connect

Five years after launching their project in October 2018, the project is still going from strength to strength and was also shortlisted for a HSJ Award in 2021.

The project enables GPs, Paramedics, Pharmacists and Junior Doctors to have access to rapid prof-to-prof clinical decisions via Consultant Connect from consultants in Acute Medicine, Cardiology PCI, COVID Assessment Unit, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Emergency Medicine, Acute Frailty, Covid Assessment Unit, Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, Flow Navigation Centre, Medicine for the Elderly, Paediatrics, Palliative Care and Stroke Medicine, at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. As well as this, patients can now use the service to call the Covid Treatment Enquiry Line to arrange clinical assessments through our PIFU service (Patient Initiated Follow Up).

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

Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr Ron Cook, who is also Clinical Care Group Director for Unscheduled Medicine at NHS Tayside, explains 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 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.”


Performance to date

Since October 2018, over 134,000 calls have been connected via the service, with an average connection time of 17 seconds. On average, across all 12 specialties offered, 46% of calls with a reported outcome resulted in the patient avoiding an unnecessary admission.    


 The following outcome data is correct from June 2022 to June 2023:

Nhs Tayside 5 Year Project Data

Shortlisted for a HSJ award

At the end of 2021, Ninewells Hospital was announced as a finalist for “Best Acute Sector Partnership with the NHS” alongside Consultant Connect at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2021. They were selected in recognition of their outstanding dedication to improving healthcare by ‘Establishing a COVID-19 Assessment and Admissions Unit’.  Ninewells and Consultant Connect delivered a presentation to the HSJ judges on Monday 26th April. You can view this presentation here.

Advice from Emergency Consultants one phone call away – NHS Tayside Health Board three years on - Consultant Connect

Case Studies

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 prof-to-prof clinical decisions 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.

Keith McRavey has been an Ambulance Technician at Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), explained: “The service helps to alleviate some of the pressure placed on the Scottish Ambulance Service, as emergency ambulances are very frequently requested to convey GP referrals to hospital. It is a fantastic service which benefits myself and my colleagues and, most importantly, our patients.” 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.

A&E Consultants to patients

Dr Andrew Russell is an A&E consultant at University Hospital Monklands, NHS Lanarkshire. He makes outgoing calls via the Patient Connect service. The Patient Connect service was set up by Consultant Connect in December 2020, with the aim of getting patients the right care faster and first time. Read his case study.


Related links

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