New health technology can cut out 50 per cent of unnecessary A&E referrals for the over 80s in south Warwickshire

Consultant Connect links paramedics to specialists in seconds, freeing up emergency beds at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust sites and Warwick Hospital

The Consultant Connect app.
The Consultant Connect app.

New health technology has been shown to cut by half the rate of unnecessary A&E referrals for the over 80s in south Warwickshire.

Consultant Connect health tech links West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics to specialists in seconds.

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The consultant then provides advice about whether to bring the patient into hospital or treat them at home.

A four-week trial of the service, which took place last year, showed positive results with 48 per cent of unnecessary conveyances for the over 80s avoided – freeing up crucial emergency beds at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust sites and Warwick Hospital.

For those who needed to be taken to the hospital, the phone call also decided where patients would go to – either straight to a frailty assessment area or A&E.

Dr Jyothi Nippani, associate medical director for South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust who oversees the frailty service, said: “The Consultant Connect system is brilliant, we wouldn’t be without it.

"Managing frailty is vitally important for any acute hospital and enabling paramedics to speak with consultants quickly has changed everything.

“The most important reason for doing this is that it is the right thing to do for the frail older patients.

“The saving on beds and prevention of emergency department overcrowding are byproducts of getting the service tailored to the patients’ needs – they can get excellent medical treatment from the safety of their own homes.

“Because we were getting these decisions right, we had capacity in our hospital to do our emergency and elective work.

"This was until the national shortage of carers which has prolonged length of stay for those patients admitted, showing the need for system response to flow issues."

Consultant Connect was set up in 2015 to reduce the number of patients being sent to hospital unnecessarily.

The Consultant Connect app allows GPs and health professionals to connect with consultants through a phone call.

Di Nippani said: “The service is great for ambulances too. Half of their work is bringing patients to hospital.

"If they’re not bringing as many people in, we can cut down on the queues outside the hospitals.

"And they can concentrate on higher priority patients with heart attacks and strokes.”