Wales approves £650k funding for national roll-out of Consultant Connect app

An app to provide specialist advice to GPs has been approved by NHS Wales.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, has approved £650,000 in funding for the new system that allows GPs, paramedics and other healthcare professionals to get immediate specialist advice when reviewing and treating patients.

As part of plans to deal with COVID-19, the technology has been fast tracked to provide access to specialists through the app, or by dialling a phone number. After choosing a specialty from a menu a user is then connected with a specialist in an average of 25 seconds. It provides access to specialists in respiratory medicine, cardiology, diabetes, palliative care and acute medicine for COVID.

Vaughan Gething said “I am very pleased we are able to start rolling out the Consultant Connect in NHS Wales. This will help to support primary care to determine the right treatment for their patients.”

“Right now it will save crucial time for health care professionals and reduce the amount of hospital visits needed by patients, at a time when our NHS is facing extra pressure.”

“In the long-term the use of this technology is an important part of our plan for the future of health and social care, A Healthier Wales. Making the most of technology is vital to us building a modern health and social care service, in which care is delivered closer to home.”

Frances Duffy, Welsh Government’s Director for Digital, Change and Innovation, said “It is important that primary care (including doctors, opticians and dentists) can access immediate advice and guidance to help them treat a patient quickly and effectively and hopefully avoiding a trip to the hospital for the patient. This is why we have invested in the setting up of a national advice and guidance system with the support of Consultant Connect. After the first few weeks we are starting to see an increase in the number of GPs using the service and hospital referrals being avoided.”

Jonathan Patrick, CEO, Consultant Connect “We’ve seen the hugely positive impact immediate advice can have for patients and clinicians in England and Scotland, so we are delighted to be able to extend this across the whole of Wales. Nobody wants to go to hospital at the moment unless it’s really necessary. This service gives calling GPs and paramedics support for their decision to treat a patient in the community rather than hospital if it’s the right care for that patient.”

NHS Warwickshire North CCG is also utilising the service, enabling GPs and other healthcare professionals to speak immediately with specialists to get advice on how to treat their patients.

Scott Maddock, Head of Commissioning at NHS Warwickshire North CCG said “Consultant Connect has provided our GPs with an opportunity to have a direct conversation with specialist consultants to provide advice and guidance on the best pathway for the patient.  We are delighted to extend Consultant Connect to the ICC team and our Mental Health colleagues so that we can ensure more patients are getting access to the right treatment in primary care without having to attend an outpatient appointment.”