GP Care's Consultant Link Advice & Guidance Service achieves 56% referral avoidance rate

GP Care's Consultant Link Advice & Guidance Service - that gives GPs immediate telephone access to specialist consultant advice - has demonstrated a referral or admission avoidance rate of over 56% since commencing in September 2012.

The key performance outcomes from the service, which is initially providing cardiology advice prior to extending to other specialties, are as follows:

  • The average time taken for a GP to get through to an appropriate consultant is just under 60 seconds;
  • The average duration of telephone call is just under 4 minutes;
  • 100% of calls are paperless for both GP and consultant with a digital voice recording being sent to GPs to attach to their patient records;
  • Clinical outcomes were:
    • 53% of calls avoided a referral;
    • 3% of calls avoided an admission;
    • 13% of calls concluded in GPs requesting diagnostic tests;
    • 29% of calls led to a referral to hospital;
    • 2% of calls led to an admission to hospital;

Not only does this service deliver a saving to commissioners that averages well in excess of £100 for each and every phone call (current cardiology tariff of c £227 per first outpatient appointment * 56%, less call charges) but it also delivers less quantifiable benefits including:

  • Case based learning for GPs; and
  • Greater communication/integration between GPs and consultants. 

GP feedback from the service includes the following quotes:

  • "Very speedy response, Advice was clear and useful”
  • “I found it a very easy service to use ,and had a very positive outcome on the 2 occasions I have used it.”
  • “Very rapid response. Easy to use. Saved a referral to secondary care”
  • “Easy to use, Short wait time, Good advice, frustrating that unable to get cardiologist to see “him as different patch (ie consultant in Bristol  but pt a south glos pt )”
  • “Easy,Quick response, very helpful”
  • “easy to use and rapid 2-3 minutes advice was helpful”
  • “we have recently had cause to use this excellent service and it works extremely well”
  • “Easy to use- impressed with how quickly put through to consultant. Great to get instant advice- only thing was- needed to fax copy of ECG to consultant- fair enough- but then had to chase response to that through his secretary, which including xmas break took about 2-3 weeks to get. Would definitely use service again though”
  • “Very easy, answered very quickly, very good prompt advice. Excellent service!”
  • “Very easy to access with little delay, sensible relevant advice”
  • “Easy to use. I waited about 5min to be connected. The advice was clear, concise and useful and prevented a referral. Very satisfied with the service”
  • “The service was very easy to use. I waited probably less than a minute to speak to the consultant. I was entirely satisfied. I think it is brilliant and hope it gets rolled out.”
  • “Found very easy on this occasion, waited about 5mins for someone to answer, very satisfied with advice received.”
  • “Very, very easy. Connected seamlessly with consultant. Consultant [xx] very helpful - organised prompt review of my patient in the defib clinic. Patient and myself very reassured. Brilliant service - many thanks”
  • “The advice given was useful & the consultant [xx] interested and helpful. The service was easy to use  although it was hard to get through- I was on hold for 5-10 minutes then there was no answer so had to call back an hour later”
  • “Extremely impressed with this service. It is very difficult to get cardiology advice as there are no cardiology registrars at wgh. It has definitely improved care not only through advice but by the patient being able to be seen according to their needs. Eg being referred for next day review by consultant cardiologist to avoid an admission, direct referral stress perfusion scan etc, thereby reducing unnecessary admissions and speeding up referrals that may otherwise be waiting too long for the rapid access chest pain team at WGH. I have even been able to make a direct referral for an angio. I think this has really improved patient care and reduced waiting times and also unnecessary investigations.”
  • “Good service, restrictions on time a pain but I rang outside of restricted time and got an answer, Good professional.”
  • “Excellent“
  • “All good, only waited a couple of mins. I have not had any written record of either call to put in the patient’s notes.”
  • “Waited 2 mins and this was second time – did not get through the previous day at 5 pm. Advice was very useful and avoided a referral”
  • “First time I used it and it was easy to use. I had to ring a second time but then straight through and with the advice I was able to reassure my patient and it prevented a cardiology referral.”
  • “Very easy, I was surprised at how quickly I was put through - Less than a minute. Perfect good advice, unfortunately the patient ended up being admitted, not because of the advice!”
  • “Very easy to use, called the number short wait connected to a consultant.  Only had to wait a couple of minutes. Very satisfied, useful for my patient, but also for my overall learning”
  • “It’s good to be able to talk to consultants again”
For further information on please call the service desk on 0333 332 2109 or email us at

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