Speedier service eases musculoskeletal pain for Bury patients

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Speedier service eases musculoskeletal pain for Bury patients
20 October 2014

An enhanced service for Bury patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions is seeing patients receiving faster treatment which frees up additional GP appointment slots.

The Bury Integrated MSK Service run by The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was set up in May 2014 as part of a redesign of services for patients with musculoskeletal conditions such as neck and low back pain, shoulder disorders such as frozen shoulder and sports injuries.

The new service was developed in partnership with local health commissioner, NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to provide a more timely and appropriate access route for patients living in Bury. Waiting times are kept to a minimum of four weeks from GP referral to appointment.

Traditionally patients would have been referred to an orthopaedic surgeon at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury Many patients who were referred via this route were either not appropriate for surgery or did not want surgery, and so the new service redesign ensures the correct patients are referred through to discuss their surgical options at the most appropriate time.

Patients are now seen within the physiotherapy department at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury and will have their initial consultation with an advanced physiotherapist practitioner. They will assess their MSK condition in the same way that they would be if they were referred to an orthopaedic surgeon, and then depending on what is required, refer them for diagnostic investigations such as MRI or ultrasound scans, as part of their individual screening process.

The administering of corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain in a wide range of joint and soft tissue conditions is also offered within the service. For those with long term conditions such as osteoarthritis or persistent pain, there is access to a wide range of management programmes to help patients better self-manage their conditions.

The integrated team includes advanced physiotherapy practitioners, a clinical nurse specialist in pain and specialist physiotherapist in pain and rheumatology. The clinical lead is Mr Aslam Chougle, consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

Deborah Bancroft, advanced physio practitioner at Fairfield General Hospital, said:

“This is an innovative service development for patients as it avoids the need for patients being sent back to their GP, providing a more streamline service and preventing the need to take up a further GP appointment. Historically patients would be referred directly to a surgeon for a specialist opinion, however with many conditions such as back pain, we know that only a very small percentage of patients will end up being suitable for surgery.”

Mr Aslam Chougle, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, at the Trust said: “As clinical lead, I wholly support this improved model of care for patients with musculoskeletal disorders. It provides a high quality evidence-based service which focuses on delivering the best possible patient experience and fits in with the Trust’s vision of how services will be delivered in the future. The feedback we have received from patients so far is extremely positive.”

Angela Barrett, professional manager, physiotherapy at the Trust, added: “This integrated multidisciplinary service allows patients to access a specialist opinion much more quickly, enables them to gain a diagnosis and plan their future management. We strive to provide a quality service in which patients seen within our Trust have the best experience possible.”

Dr. Kiran Patel, Chair and Clinical Lead for NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“The MSK Service is a great example of the kind of service we should be developing. It demonstrates the benefits of different teams working together to ensure that patients see the most appropriate clinician the very first time. This not only improves the patient experience but also by providing more time, advice and treatments produce better outcomes. The service also provides support and advice to colleagues working in primary care, ensuring referrals are more appropriate. Patients rarely fit neatly into simple boxes and we need to develop more integrated responsive services like this.”

Dr Wiz El-Jouzi, Clinical Lead on the NHS Bury CCG Governing Body and Chair of the North Sector Group which represents GP practices, said:

“The single point of access into the system allows for an easier and more streamlined referral process. The subsequent triage of the referral by a senior practitioner then ensures patients see the correct professional in a timely manner. From my perspective as a GP, the new system also helps prevent the former practice of having patients bounce backwards and forwards between primary and secondary care in order to see different specialists. This will certainly lead to a more seamless patient journey.”