Unscheduled care - professional to professional decision support: guidance

This best practice guidance will help effective clinical communication and support shared decision making, with the aim of accessing alternatives to hospital attendance or admission where appropriate and safe to do so.


Professional to professional decision support can facilitate direct referral from primary care and community services, NHS 24 and the ambulance service to the most appropriate pathway of care without the need for additional clinical touch points for further triage. Successful implementation of professional to professional decision support can bring whole system benefits and improved visibility of pathways of care which previously may not have been accessible.

Benefits for the patient include the avoidance of non-value added steps in the patient journey. This aims to improve patient experience, has the potential to create system wide capacity by minimising duplication and repeated handoffs, improving flow and reducing harm from multiple transitions of care.

Professional to professional decision support can inform decision making to ensure the patient receives the right care in the right place which can be by immediate urgent care treatment, scheduled appointment or virtual consultation.

Anticipated benefits of professional to professional decision support:

  • Direct access to specialist clinical advice
  • Facilitation of shared decision making
  • Signposting or referral to the right place of care
  • Mechanism for appropriate clinical information sharing to inform diagnosis and destination decisions
  • Enabling care closer to home where possible and safe to do so
  • Providing an alternative to hospital attendance or a scheduled appointment, thereby improving patient experience and reducing exposure to avoidable harm associated with hospital admission
  • Avoiding unnecessary attendances at care venues
  • Increased flexibility and efficiency of service delivery
  • Reducing demand on ambulance service resources by reducing inter-hospital patient transfers, reducing ambulance turnaround times at sites and reducing some patient conveyance journeys where a suitable alternative pathway can be accessed
  • Two-way professional to professional conversations across multiple care providers



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