As a Consultant Cardiologist who comes into daily contact with primary care clinicians seeking telephone advice and guidance, Dr Patrick Davey knows the impact his advice can have on patient care and long-term GP education.
Dr Davey answers calls from primary care in the locality of his trust, Northampton General Hospital and also from across the UK for the National Consultant Network.
“I not infrequently follow up my conversation with emails to individual GPs, either locally or nationally, to elaborate my answers. My main aim of being involved in answering calls is to improve the quality of care for patients that GPs are worried about. Often this means giving advice, sometimes I recommend hospital admission. I – and the system – are keen for patients not to go unnecessarily to hospital. I really enjoy talking to GPs. I usually talk through the patient’s symptoms with the GP and recommend the patient to be managed in the GP surgery and then they can recover safely at home.”
Sometimes timely specialist advice for patients can be undoubtedly lifesaving.
Dr Davey told us about two calls he has recently taken when working on the National Consultant Network. He is full of admiration for the GPs who used the Advice & Guidance service to ensure everything possible was being done for their patients.
“A GP called about a patient that had apparent heartburn – the GP was concerned enough about the diagnosis to obtain an ECG. The GP sent the ECG to me and I could see that the patient was having a heart attack. I advised the GP to call 999 and the patient was immediately taken safely to hospital.”
“Another GP called about their patient who had rather non-specific symptoms, and as part of the workup, he had done an ECG, which he wanted me to run my eye over. This ECG showed a low heart rate (40bpm). I diagnosed heart block (a dangerous condition that untreated often kills the patient within a few weeks). The patient was immediately sent to hospital for a pacemaker, something that should return their outlook to normal.”
Dr Davey told us “I very much enjoy providing a very easy-to-access service to GPs nationwide. I believe that they find it very useful to be able to talk through difficult cases which are worrying them with fellow professionals, without having to go through long winded and difficult hospital switchboards. I have been really impressed with the expertise of the GPs who access the service, and how they deal with difficult clinical problems that they face, and I believe that they appreciate the discussion and advice I give.”
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