Newsletter - March 2016 - Bringing GPs and Consultants Together

A new system has been introduced in Stockport to help doctors access real-time specialist advice from consultants.

Consultant Connect is a service which any Stockport GP can use in order to speak to a specialist consultant at Stepping Hill Hospital to discuss any concerns or queries they may have about a patient.

Since February 2016, GPs have been using the service to obtain advice from consultants within the haematology and endocrinology departments, and a further six departments will be part of the service later this year.

GPs can get advice through a single telephone number which connects with teams of consultants. Each consultant is given around 15-20 seconds to answer a call, and if they are not in a position to take the call then it loops to the next consultant on the list.

This improved availability of advice not only benefits patients in terms of speed of diagnosis and treatment, it also aims to reduce both unnecessary follow-on appointments and visits to hospital outpatient departments.

Dr Simon Woodworth, GP at Chadsfield Medical Centre in Stockport, explained: “Since the service was launched, I have used Consultant Connect twice, and each time it has proved to be really quick and an efficient use of time. The consultants - both endocrinology and haematology – were able to access patient results at the hospital and give me real-time advice specific to the patient’s needs.

“Each contact with the consultant has stopped the need for a referral, which meant that the patient left the consultation with clarity of their management plan. This was particularly useful for patients with complicated needs, who might normally have to wait for a chain of letters between the GP and consultants or a formal appointment secondary to a referral.”

Consultant Connect: How it works

GP seeks advice: A GP has a patient that might need referring to the hospital, but before writing a referral the GP decides that they would like a specialist opinion on whether this is necessary. The GP calls Consultant Connect, either whilst the patient is still with them or after they have left the consultation to obtain advice and guidance from a local consultant from Stepping Hill Hospital. The GP selects the speciality required, e.g. haematology or endocrinology, and identifies the patient by dialling their NHS number into the system.

Call connected to specialty consultant: The call is put through to a ‘rota’ of specialty consultants from Stepping Hill. If a consultant on the rota does not answer the call, it will automatically go on to the next consultant on the list.

GP receives advice & guidance: The GP speaks with the consultant, who offers immediate advice and guidance, and a decision is reached on the best appropriate course of action for the patient.

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