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Best practice recognised for GPs in Morecambe Bay

A scheme offering GPs advice from hospital specialists when they are unsure whether to refer a patient to hospital has seen a number of people avoid having to go to hospital according to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust.  BetterCare

The Advice and Guidance scheme was introduced as a pilot in Garstang in 2014 and has now expanded to cover 16 specialties across the Morecambe Bay area. 

It offers the opportunity for GPs to seek advice via an electronic “conversation” with a hospital consultant on a patient where they have a query. 

Recent figures covering the period between April and Dec 2015 show that of the 1,238 “conversations” begun by GPs to specialists (that would have previously been a direct referral to hospital for an outpatient appointment.) 425 (34%) patients were managed under the care of the GP with advice from a specialist. 

In addition three patients who would otherwise have been admitted to hospital were managed in the community. 

“GPs can expect to receive a response from a hospital specialist within five working days – and the results show that patients have been saved a lot of inconvenience using this simple scheme,” said Dr George Dingle, GP in Garstang. 

“Early in the new year the project will continue its roll out across further specialties—and engagement with GPs across north Lancashire and south Cumbria will continue—meaning many more patients will avoid having to travel to hospital to be seen by a specialist.” 

Healthwatch Lancashire Chief Executive Gill Brown said: “Healthwatch Lancashire welcomes new schemes that make a positive difference to communities and people in Lancashire.”