Patients with Rheumatology and Ear, Nose and Throat conditions are now receiving expert clinical advice more quickly, meaning they can receive treatment from their GP without having to wait for hospital appointments.

This is thanks to two new Advice and Guidance services for GPs which have been launched this month.

The Advice and Guidance service, which has come about from partnership working, means that GPs can get a second opinion on a patient’s condition from a hospital specialist by sending a secure electronic advice request message.

This message may include scanned images, diagnostic results or relevant previous correspondence. The hospital doctor reads the GP’s electronic message, and responds within three days, including attachments such as proposed treatment plans or links to other resources where appropriate.

Dr Jeremy Welch, GP in Tewkesbury, said:

“Being able to access expert advice from a consultant so quickly means that we can ensure patients are seen by the right clinician in the most appropriate setting.

It can be really helpful to double check specific information about the condition or referral options and getting this right first time means that patients don’t get redirected to another service when it’s not necessary. They can often be treated by doctors in their local GP surgery, avoiding the need for a hospital visit.”

Dr Hein Le Roux, GP in Minchinhampton, said:

“We’ve been using Advice and Guidance services for over a year now, and GPs have submitted over 700 requests for advice. It has been really useful to learn from the feedback, which we share with colleagues.  We of course continue to refer patients whose condition is more serious to hospital, and the service also means that hospitals can concentrate on treating these patients.”

Advice and guidance services for GPs are already in place for people with diabetes, skin conditions (dermatology), kidney conditions (nephrology), hormone conditions (endocrinology) and conditions specific to children (paediatrics). It will also be introduced soon in other specialties, including blood conditions (haematology), urinary conditions (urology) and neurological conditions (neurology).