Local acute Trust speeding up

25th May 2016

SANDWELL and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced a headline improvement to its outpatient referral management system.  This has successfully reduced the time patients wait to be seen by consultants and speeded up their treatment.

The project – called CATS (Consultant Advice and Triage Service) – prompts consultants to review each referral, searching the patient’s previous history and test results before making a clinical decision.  This enables them to decide whether a patient can be managed in the community with additional support, or whether they need immediate diagnostic testing.

Dr Nigel Trudgill, one of the leads of the CATS project, said: “This project shows that a small change can make such a huge difference to patients’ experience.

“Consultants are encouraged to spend more time on reviewing the referral, which will then allow them to make a decision on whether patients can be managed in the community under the care of their GPs.

“The project started in June 2015 and many departments in the Trust are now using the CATS model, including Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Immunology and Haematology. After six months using this model, waiting time for Gastroenterology has been reduced from three months to seven weeks, enabling the urgent patients in real need of specialist care to be seen”.

Dr Savio Gaspar, GP at St Clement’s Surgery in Birmingham – and also the GP Director for Primary Care – said: “The impact that CATS can bring to patients is tremendous.

“It gives patients the opportunity to receive the right care at the right time by the right person. We believe that just by changing small steps in reviewing referrals, the speed of delivering care can be significantly increased.

“It’s a revolution for the NHS – and I would recommend other GPs and hospitals to adopt this model”.

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