Advice line for GPs saves hours of travel for patients and £100k to be reinvested back into NHS

A neurology hotline for GPs in the north west has spared patients unnecessary worry and travel time, while £100,000 a year has been reinvested back into the NHS.

The advice line, run by the Walton Centre in Liverpool, means GPs in the Cheshire and Merseyside area can call neuro consultants for fast advice any weekday reducing extra patient appointments. It means less time off work for patients, less travelling and consequently less pollution for the environment.

Of the 181 calls received in 2017/18  37% were resolved by the GP saving £51,698 which over a year saves around £100k.

Programme Director Julie Riley said: “We want to deliver services closer to home and when patients do come into hospital, support them so they can recover and go home quicker. From a patient point of view, we want to work in partnership with them. We, our consultant colleagues and GPs want to support them in self-management, where appropriate – rather than taking a paternalistic approach.”

There are around 10 million patients in the UK with long term neurology conditions and only around 600 Neurologists.

The Walton Centre is the only specialist hospital trust in the UK dedicated to providing comprehensive neurology, neurosurgery, spinal and pain management services.

Across the country 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) are planning collectively how to improve residents’ day-to-day health by working together more effectively including primary and secondary care working together better. Spreading this kind of approach will be a key part of the long term plan for the NHS that is being drawn up over the coming months.

Dr Kieran Murphy, Clinical Lead at the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, said: “What we want to do is to encourage simple, common sense improvements for patients that will make a big difference. Saving patients time and inconvenience while improving their care can only be welcomed by everyone.”

GP Karen Kirkham, NHS England’s National Clinical Advisor for Primary Care, 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. 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.”