Patients in Doncaster could be spared an avoidable visit to hospital as GPs are now able to use a phone guidance service.
The service, called Consultant Direct, provides GPs and patients with immediate and direct access to specialist health advice.
This quite often means that patients avoid unnecessary trips to hospital, the NHS saves money and hospital consultants spend their time dealing with patients that they need to see.
NHS Doncaster CCG introduced the service in the summer and since then it has been progressively rolled out across more and more specialities at Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI).
Dr Stephanie Teanby-Clark, at GP at Askern’s Lakeside Practice said the service had been effective in helping doctors to decide where patients should be treated.
“Consultant Connect helps us to make a good judgement on whether or not to refer a patient to hospital.
“Nobody wants to be referred to hospital only for the consultant to say that their GP is the best person to manage their care.
“If the best course of action can be determined through a quick phone call it’s far more efficient for the NHS and more convenient for the patient.”
Last January, the project covered 43 practices and seven specialties and calls were being answered by consultants within one minute.
Now, the service covers 13 specialities at DRI and the average time it takes for a consultant to answer GPs calls is 35 seconds.
The immediacy of this conversation means GPs get advice whilst the patient is still in the room.
Consultants at DRI have taken 1,200 calls since the service was launched and 54 per cent of those calls have resulted in a patient referral to hospital being avoided and care being provided in the borough instead.
Dr Teanby-Clark added: “I contacted one of the chest physicians at Doncaster Royal Infirmary about a patient who is in her 90s and has breathing problems.
“The fast response I was given on how to manage her symptoms meant I was able to continue looking after her at home, rather than sending her to hospital.”
Jonathan Patrick, Chief Executive at Consultant Connect, said: “We’ve seen the hugely positive impact our service can have for patients, GPs and consultants and we are delighted to see it working in Doncaster.”