The ‘neurology hotline’, run by the Walton Centre in Liverpool, enables GPs in the surrounding Cheshire and Merseyside areas to call neuro consultants throughout the week for fast advice.
In instances where the hotline was used, two in five cases (37%) were able to be resolved by the GP - reducing the need for follow-up appointments and in turn saving an estimated £100,000 per year.
NHS England's national clinical adviser for primary care and GP Dr Karen Kirkham, said: ‘The Walton Centre’s advice line is an example of integrated care in action, connecting GPs with hospital specialists to provide more joined-up care for patients. We often find these kind of improvements also make savings that can be reinvested back into the local NHS.’
NHS long-term plan
Dr Kirkham said the hotline system was also saving patients time and preventing unnecessary worry.
‘In this case patients also need less time off work because they need fewer appointments and to travel less, which is also good for the environment. It is just this kind of innovation that we need to spread through the forthcoming NHS long term plan,’ she added.
RCGP vice chair Dr Mike Holmes said: 'Working in a more joined-up way with secondary care colleagues is integral for optimal patient care. That’s why it’s so encouraging to hear about schemes like this, which aim not only to reduce unnecessary appointments, but also to streamline the care that patients needing specialist advice need.
'We look forward to seeing more schemes like this being developed and rolled out across the country.'