An advice line for health professionals which has cut the numbers of people in Tayside being admitted to hospital has been nominated for an award.
NHS Tayside’s partnership with Consultant Connect has been shortlisted by the Health Service Journal’s HSJ awards for Best Acute Sector Partnership, with the winners set to be announced in London this week.
The system, which was implemented at the start of the pandemic, gives GPs and paramedics a number to call which puts them in immediate contact with emergency department consultants and the acute medical unit.
This speedy access to advice and support can help if they are not sure whether a person needs to be in hospital and was especially useful to the profession in the early stages of Covid-19.
The advice line has seen:
- more than 7,500 calls
- nearly 30% of patients not needing to be admitted to hospital
It has also helped slash emergency department waiting times for NHS Tayside in winter.
In January this year, more than 95% of emergency department patients were seen within four hours in Tayside, compared to on average 88% overall in NHS Scotland.
For Rod Fleming, a GP in Dundee’s Erskine Practice, it has proved a useful source of support.
He cites one case where a young mum had attended the surgery with an upper respiratory tract infection and a pain in her upper left side.
He said: “I wanted to get a chest X-ray but we wouldn’t have got the report for seven to 10 days.”
Dr Fleming spoke to the consultant who agreed to look at the X-ray as soon as it was done, and speak to the patient by telephone.
The patient was prescribed antibiotics in case of pneumonia, which is what it turned out to be.
He said: “It saved her having to go up to Ninewells, and meant she could stay at home. This was good for the patient, who had two small children, but also good for the health service as it meant she was managed in the community rather than in hospital.”
Dr Ron Cook, a frontline Consultant Emergency Physician and Clinical Care Group Director for Emergency, Urgent and Integrated Care in Tayside said the line was also useful during the pandemic.
He said: “The Consultant Connect line was hugely beneficial in the early Covid-19 response when teams across healthcare were working to familiarise themselves with Covid-19 presentations.
“It facilitated access to expert advice, supported shared decision making and also gave us the ability to immediately listen back to calls which was a valuable training tool.”
Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect, said the system has been implemented in many NHS board across the UK, but Tayside’s response stood them apart.
He said: “The speed in which they stood up this Covid-19 service is a klaxon blast to everyone in the NHS to show how quickly they can move when it’s done right.
“We work a lot of projects and there’s loads of brilliant motivated teams out there at all levels, but this has been an astonishing achievement by NHS Tayside.
“They’ve re-written expectations we’ve had.”
“We’re delighted our part in NHS Tayside’s impressive response to the pandemic has been recognised. The whole point of our service is to provide better patient outcomes and the evidence shows that is what has happened in Tayside.”