Alongside our core work of supporting NHS areas in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we also contacted GPs across the country to ask if they would be willing to answer calls on a pro-bono basis from 111 and 999 clinicians. We subsequently received a significant number of responses and were approached by Team GP v. Covid (a GP volunteer organisation with a similar mission but with close to 700 respondents) to pool our efforts.
We then shared the concept with Ambulance Trusts and were approached by the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), who thought it could be beneficial for their 999 Clinical Support Desk and Ambulance Operators. The service went live in the first week.
The main benefit of rapid Telephone Advice and Guidance via Consultant Connect is the support it provides to the decision making of the clinician treating the patient, allowing them to make the “right decision first time” for the patient. For the Ambulance Service, what we wanted was to safely increase the chance of a “see and treat” or “hear and treat” without the need for a conveyance to a hospital.
To date, 86% of calls have resulted in the patient being treated at home or in primary care. In addition, calls are connected in an average time of just 45 seconds – meaning that advice can be rapidly accessed for the patient. This not only enables hospital doctors to prioritise their time during the pandemic, but also means that the patient has a smoother experience.
Image showing the areas SCAS operates in.
We have recently been in contact with some of the GPs who have been answering calls to ask for their feedback:
“I decided to volunteer for this service to help the ‘fight against COVID-19’. I have a background in A&E as well as being a GP, and passionately believe that supporting 999 will thus reduce the use of OOH, secondary care and A&E. This really helps ‘the system’ cope, and is usually better for the patient and the NHS as a whole.” Dr Simon Hodes, GP, Bridgewater Surgeries, NHS Herts Valley CCG
“I can offer experienced clinical guidance and often reassurance that the proposed plan of action seems correct. I feel that I am able to work as a team with the paramedics/control centre with us each contributing from our areas of expertise.” Dr Steve Doyle, GP, Ashworth Street Surgery, NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale CCG
SCAS is not the only ambulance service which has access to Telephone Advice & Guidance through Consultant Connect. To find out more about how Telephone Advice & Guidance is helping paramedics across the United Kingdom, download this guide or read the following case studies:
*Statistics correct as of 9th June 2020.