patients are getting treatment more quickly and many do not need to travel to hospital for an outpatient appointment thanks to a GP advice scheme.

The locally-developed system, called Advice and Guidance, enables GPs to have a secure electronic ‘conversation’ with a hospital specialist. This enables them to obtain advice for individual patients, without the need to refer them to hospital.

From January 2018 – December 2018, nearly 10,000 ‘conversations’ took place between GPs and hospital specialists via the service with 71 per cent of cases resulting in having their treatment changed by their GP.

Dr Marwan Bukhari, consultant rheumatologist at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This has been a service that has enabled the quick communication between primary and secondary care and enabled decisions about patient care to be made in a timely manner with reduction in waiting and travel time. It has also provided an educational resource for the GP’s and potentially reduced the number of referrals into the service in addition to allowing those referred to have had appropriate investigations prior to being seen, speeding up the diagnostic process.”

The scheme was introduced as a pilot in Garstang in 2014 as part of Better Care Together and is now available across the Morecambe Bay area.

It has expanded since its launch to cover 50 specialties areas including rheumatology, radiology, diabetic medicine, endocrinology, trauma and orthopaedics.

Bay Health and Care Partners continue to introduce and support new models of care across Morecambe Bay to improve the way people receive health and care services within south Cumbria and North Lancashire.

These new models of care developed over the last five years are integral in the delivery and implementation of the Better Care Together Strategy.