Background: In May 2010 a dedicated Consultant-delivered Endocrine Telephone Advice Clinic (ETAC) was launched at St Bartholomews Hospital as a direct point of access for primary care doctors to obtain endocrine advice about new patients. The proposed benefits of this clinic were to: 1. Reduce unnecessary clinic attendances that could be managed in primary care. 2. Allow for more detailed and less hurried discussions of non-urgent cases than was possible via the on-call Registrar. 3. Improve relationships with primary care physicians. 4. Educate GPs and help them gain insight into helpful information prior to secondary care referral.
Aims: To assess the utilisation and uptake of the ETAC in its first 18 months of existence.
Methods: The prospectively-compiled telephone log of all referrals to ETAC between May 2010 and November 2011 was analysed. Data concerning referring GP, patient demographics, clinical question and consultation outcome were extracted.
Results: 167 telephone referrals were received in the 18-month period. The mean patient age was 41.2 years (range 1590 years); 75% were female. The service was used by 48 different General Practices (23 within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets). The most common reason for referral were thyroid abnormalities (n=87, 52.1%). Of the 167 telephone referrals, only 37 (22.2%) required a subsequent endocrine outpatient appointment.
Discussion: The ETAC has proved a popular service that has been accessed by over 57% of the GP practices in Tower Hamlets with 65% of practices re-using the service. It has facilitated greater interaction with primary care and analysis of the common questions raised could guide future education sessions. It has reduced the volume of demand for new outpatient appointments and has helped referral prioritisation. The 124 telephone calls that were concluded without the need for new outpatient appointments would otherwise have accounted for over 90 hours of clinic time.
Declaration of interest: There is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.
Funding: No specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.