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How Cinapsis could solve the NHS’s backlog problem

In 2021, the good old-fashioned letter isn’t the most efficient way to communicate with patients any more. Andy Martin meets the CEO of Cinapsis who has a vision for efficiency

Sunday 15 August 2021 15:08
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<p>A youth spent injuring himself doing rugby has inspired Owain Rhys Hughes</p>

A youth spent injuring himself doing rugby has inspired Owain Rhys Hughes

Dr Owain Rhys Hughes didn’t always want to be a doctor. Growing up in Anglesey, he thought he’d be a scientist. But he played a lot of rugby at school, so naturally he ended up in A&E occasionally. In fact, aged 14, he spent a considerable amount of time in hospital getting patched up, which is when he started thinking about doing medicine himself and cutting out the middleman. Now he is the founder and CEO of Cinapsis, which keeps GPs and consultants in direct contact and cuts down on waiting lists.

There must be a kind of karma at work because as a surgeon he often has to deal with the cauliflower ears and broken noses sustained by rugby players. Hughes studied in Cardiff but spent a year at Harvard in the ear, nose and throat unit. He went on to do stints in Bath and London at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Royal Marsden, while still playing rugby for Hackney RFC. He rose through the ranks to become a registrar and finally a consultant. But some of his more frustrating experiences inspired him to come up with Cinapsis.

One of his tasks as registrar was to vet referral letters from GPs to specialists asking them to have a look at one patient or another. He had to read through about 200 letters a week. At the end of it all, he realised two things: one was that it was very unlikely he would reject any of the referrals and, secondly, there was not enough information in the letter to enable him to make a determination one way or another. “If only the GP could have spoken to me at the time – or the patient ­– we could have come up with a plan, which might have avoided a lot of trouble.”

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