Pilot to improve patient care launched

A new, secure online system is being trialled in Norfolk to help GPs discuss patients' care with hospital specialists.

NHS Norfolk is introducing the web-based communication tool, called “Confer” from today (Monday July 4) for a three month trial.

GPs will be able to “confer” with specialists and consultants in hospitals over a secure link to discuss an individual patient’s treatment options.

Ultimately, GPs will be able to find the most appropriate care for their patients, whether it is in the community setting or in hospital. It should increase communication between GP practices and hospitals, improve patient outcomes and reduce unnecessary referrals.

GPs in the NHS Norfolk area and specialist consultants from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust (QEHKL) will be working on the trial.

Dr Anna Lipp, Consultant Anaesthetist and Lead for pre-operative assessment at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “I hope that Confer could enable a GP to discuss the fitness of a patient for surgery with a consultant anaesthetist before the referral to a surgeon is made.

“In some cases patients have an underlying problem such as diabetes or heart disease that may cause increased risks at the time of surgery.  Discussion of these problems prior to referral could enable time to make changes to treatment, or perform further investigations, that will prevent delays or cancellations prior to any operation.

“If patients are as fit as possible prior to their operation they will recover and return home more quickly enabling better use of hospital beds.

“In a few cases, patients may have other illness of such severity that risks of surgery out weigh the benefits.  Discussion with an anaesthetist might prevent referral for surgery that would be too risky and enable alternative treatment to be offered.  This would avoid unnecessary hospital visits and anxiety to patients and their families.”

Ian Ayres, NHS Norfolk's Executive Director of Delivery and Deputy Chief Executive said: “Confer will help GPs and Consultants ensure patients get the best care at the right place.

“This is line with the aspirations set out in our five year strategy for 2009-14, 'Bold and Ambitious'.”

So far, over 300 GPs and Nurse Practitioners in the NHS Norfolk area registered with specialties in the hospitals have signed up to take part in the pilot. 

Monday 4th of July 2011 12:00:26 PM