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Advice and guidance helping people across Morecambe Bay to manage their conditions closer to home

11 February 2019

An increasing number of patients are getting treatment more quickly and many do not need to travel to hospital for an outpatient appointment thanks to Advice and Guidance.

The locally-developed system 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% 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, who uses the Advice and Guidance Service to offer advice to GPs, 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.”

Dr William Lumb, a GP in Sedbergh and Chief Clinical Information Officer for Bay Health and Care Partners, said: “This progress is wonderful to see and will directly improve patient care which is what we are all about. Having a digitally mature hospital is an essential component of our bay wide approach where we meld electronic record sharing, navigation and patient facing apps into a single integrated solution of which we are justifiably proud. Real patients are benefiting on a daily basis-so digital health does matter in Morecambe Bay.”

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 and Endocrinology and 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.