A new service for patients in Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which assesses and treats conditions affecting joints, bones and muscles, has reduced hospital waiting times and received praise from service users.
In its first six months of operating, 99% of people who took part in an NHS Friends and Family Test survey said they would recommend the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Musculoskeletal (MSK) Triage service which provides fast access to appropriate treatment for adults with an MSK condition requiring specialist management. The service was commissioned by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group and is run by East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH). It is made up of specialist Physiotherapists who have completed advanced practice training.
Patients are referred to the triage service by their GP and the specialist team then decides the appropriate care pathway for them, which may include self-management or a referral to community services such as ECCH’s physiotherapists or to the James Paget University Hospital or Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital if a consultant-led intervention such as surgery may be necessary.
Figures indicate that less than half of the patients referred for triage to date have been referred on to secondary care, reducing the orthopaedic waiting times at the James Paget University Hospital to an average of four to six weeks.
One patient, Caroline from Lowestoft, who had been experiencing shoulder pain for six years said: “The treatment was fantastic. The physiotherapist was really caring and he put my mind at rest on a lot of things and explained what a lot of people haven’t explained before. He then referred me to a pain clinic at the Paget and a community group.”
Another 65 year old male patient said: “The exercises to change my mobility recommended by my therapist have changed my life as I have known it for the past six months.”
The service was developed after the CCG recognised that there was a potential need for such a service locally and looked at best practice across the rest of the country. Clinicians and project commissioning managers from the CCG worked very closely with service leads at ECCH to design a local model for Great Yarmouth and Waveney patients.
ECCH’s Clinical Lead for Physiotherapy Alice Bellamy, who designed the local service, said: “We wanted to ensure people get access to the right care as quickly as possible and are fully engaged in the whole process. We’re delighted it has proved popular with patients. We know from the feedback that the approach we are taking is helping patients to better understand their treatment and feel empowered to self-manage, which should lead to better outcomes for them.”
Cath Byford, Deputy Chief Officer of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG said: “I am really pleased with the team approach shown by the ECCH staff who have worked well with local GP staff and the James Paget University Hospital and other teams within ECCH. This joint working approach has undoubtedly contributed to the patients having a satisfying experience of the NHS locally.’