Using out-of-area consultants to support Advice & Guidance

Published: 6th December 2018
One of the biggest challenges for hospitals delivering an Advice & Guidance service is staffing it. Whether the requests come in from GPs by phone or in writing, most clinicians are expected to respond whilst also doing their day job. This can mean using consultant admin time, for example, to squeeze in advice & guidance […]

One of the biggest challenges for hospitals delivering an Advice & Guidance service is staffing it. Whether the requests come in from GPs by phone or in writing, most clinicians are expected to respond whilst also doing their day job.

This can mean using consultant admin time, for example, to squeeze in advice & guidance alongside essential paperwork. Planning to take incoming phone calls can be shared amongst teams (“on-call” consultants, answering rotas), but answering calls alongside other duties requires careful management.

Setting time aside specifically for advice by job-planning is a good way of making sure advice is prioritised. The disadvantages are that it stops clinicians from seeing as many patients and that the advice may only be available for small amounts of time, such as 1 – 2pm or only on certain days.

At the end of the day, the problem can be solved by more staff. And, for many specialties, those staff don’t have to be based at your hospital. This allows consultants from other areas who have availability to take advice calls and written requests from your GPs.

That is why we have created a National Network of specialists to support your GPs both in Elective Care and Mental Health. Our national network options help to solve any staffing issues. The network consists of NHS specialists who are able to answer calls for advice. For example, they may work part time and be willing to take calls on their days off.

In Elective Care, these specialists are also able to answer written requests for advice.
They are able to:

  • Support your local consultants, acting as a backstop when they can’t respond to requests; and
  • Provide specialties that are not available locally, e.g. neurology

We are currently able to cover most specialties for phone and written advice & guidance requests, including:

  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Gynaecology
  • Haematology
  • Neurology
  • Paediatrics
  • Rheumatology
  • Urology

In Mental Health, we offer two national telephone-based advice and guidance services to support GPs with prescribing in primary care: one is for children and young people with mental health problems, and one is for working age adults with mental health problems.

We understand the importance of keeping young people and adults managed in primary care where it is clinically appropriate to do so and reducing the number of people unnecessarily added to long waiting lists in secondary care.

Specifically, our medication advice line supports with:

  • Medication reviews
  • Potential interactions between drugs and side effects
  • Supporting primary care prescribing
  • Confirming NICE guidance

Our telephone advice lines are staffed by a national network of NHS fully trained and accredited Psychiatrists, Pharmacists and Nurse Prescribers.  We offer this service to support GPs with managing a range of conditions in primary care including anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism and Psychosis.

If you have any questions about our National Network for Elective Care or Mental Health, visit our National Network webpage, contact us on 018656 261467 or hello@consultantconnect.org.uk.

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