Health Service Focus

08.06.16

Specialist advice at the touch of a button

Source: NHE May/Jun 16

Tim Ryley, director of strategic planning and governance at Stockport CCG, runs through a new service that has cut down on costs, time and red tape by quickly connecting GPs to specialist consultants during appointments.

“Imagine I’m a patient who is sat with a GP with a particular need,” Tim Ryley, Stockport CCG’s director of strategic planning and governance, tells NHE. “The GP thinks: I might need to refer you, but I’m not quite sure what to do here without some expert advice from a consultant.” 

Currently, he said, GPs would then have to write a referral letter, after which the patient would have to wait for 10, 12 or maybe even 18 weeks until being able to see a consultant. But now, with the CCG’s new innovative Consultant Connect service, this process can all be carried out in a matter of seconds. 

“GPs dial a number, get given a set of options, and click which speciality option they want. The phone then chases round each of the consultants in that speciality until one of them answers – so it rings one, and then if they don’t answer in a set period, it jumps to the next one, and so on down that list of consultants in that speciality,” Ryley said. 

“One of them then answers, you have a quick chat about the patient, get some advice, and you probably now don’t need to refer them. They don’t need to wait 12 weeks, they can leave your practice surgery with the decision and, all at the same time, the NHS is spared a fortune in outpatient clinic costs and sending notes and letters round the system.” 

Less pressure on the system 

Consultant Connect, rolled out in April to bridge the divide between both professions during patient appointments at Manchester’s Stepping Hill Hospital, has since phased out the historically difficult challenge of reaching busy hospital consultants by phone through its unique ‘rota’ system. 

“The reality is, the conversations the consultants are having are shorter than having a full outpatient clinic, so in time, it will actually release pressure from the GPs – who probably would’ve had to have two appointments, one to send the person and one to get the letter back from the consultant,” Ryley explained. 

“In the medium term, what we’ll end up with is less pressure on the system. It reduces lots of red tape and letters and things lying about, but it actually also reduces consultation time, for both GPs and consultants.”  

The service had already been used in Bristol and Essex, but Stockport is “using it and planning to use it much more aggressively and across a much wider range than most places”. 

Ryley noted that the service is currently used by four specialities, which is going up to eight, and there is a desire to roll it out across all specialities next year. 

Fitting in with devolution and the vanguard model 

Although seemingly small-scale, the £40,000 programme is a crucial element of the two major changes ongoing across Stockport: its status as a vanguard as part of Stockport Together, and its place in the wider Greater Manchester devolution. 

The first means the CCG is looking at the interface between acute hospitals and general practice, making sure people only go to a hospital when they need to. 

The second is fundamentally important in that Greater Manchester has recently taken control of its devolved £6bn health budget, meaning trusts are looking to reduce costs – something Consultant Connect “clearly does”. 

“The other thing I find important, and Greater Manchester is putting a lot of emphasis on that, is neighbourhood – your care closer to home,” said Ryley. 

“A one-stop opportunity rather than multiple appointments, therefore, absolutely fits.” 

While it’s still early days, the service has already prevented hospital referrals in 70% of recorded cases. In the first month, over two-thirds of GP practices made use of the service, and the feedback has been incredible: 75% of GPs felt it had a positive impact in their work, and a whopping 100% felt it enhanced their knowledge and improved patient care.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

First NHS trusts introduce NHS SBS’ The Edge4Health

16/01/2020First NHS trusts introduce NHS SBS’ The Edge4Health

A major new procurement platform developed by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), The Edge4Health, is being adopted by NHS trust staff across... more >
NHS mental health director demands urgent gambling action

16/01/2020NHS mental health director demands urgent gambling action

The director of NHS mental health, Claire Murdoch, has penned a written plea to the heads of top gambling firms, urging them to take action on im... more >
Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

16/01/2020Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discus... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

16/01/2020Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discusses the need to move the treatment of patients from primary to secondary care and how the NHS People Plan can help achieve this. Throughout my (overlong) career in the NHS, the national policy on modernising the way NHS services are delivered has been pretty consistent. All recent governments; ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing. As the best rugby players in the world repr... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professionals as new research reveals how shockingly under-vauled our NHS, edu... more >
Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

10/06/2019Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical advisor and education lead at Helpforce, and Lynn Twinn, talent development consultant, outline the new national traini... more >
Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

10/06/2019Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

Peter Skitt, county director and commissioner for Ceredigion Hywel Dda University Health Board, looks ahead to the new integrated care centre bei... more >

interviews

Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

07/12/2019Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

Mike Farrar Chairperson of Swim England Would you talk us through your previous roles within the NHS? I’ve held a number of ... more >
Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >