An easy to access, patient-centred programme for people with musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, hip conditions, knee conditions, lower back and minor fractures is proving to be a success, saving patients travel time and money.
The integrated musculoskeletal (iMSK) programme is being led by Bay Health and Care Partners including University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
As part of the programme, the team has introduced specialist clinics for those with musculoskeletal problems at Grange-over-Sands, Millom, Kendal and Barrow, in addition to pre-existing clinics in Morecambe, Heysham and Lancaster. The new clinics have hosted 3,692 appointments since they started in December 2016.
The primary aim of the service is to ensure that patients are seen by the right person first time, and patients needing surgery or with complex problems are prioritised by the orthopaedic service in hospital. The service also aims to deflect 50% of GP eReferrals from the orthopaedic service to the integrated musculoskeletal (iMSK) clinics meaning that orthopaedic surgeons have more time to spend with patients who need surgery.
James Geary, Extended Scope Physiotherapist, UHMBT, said: “Patients are seen by experienced clinicians to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions through assessment, radiological investigations, blood tests and joint injections that were traditionally provided in an orthopaedic clinic. Patients are seen locally and it also takes pressure off the orthopaedic teams.”
A patient from Kendal said: “The whole process was straightforward, clearly explains and instructive. I would recommend the approach as I now have a much clearer idea of what is wrong and what to do about it.”
Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “The work that is taking place across the bay is seeing some really positive results which are benefitting local people living with musculoskeletal conditions.”
Judith Neaves, a GP in Ulverston, added: “The clinicians in the service work closely with orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatology and pain clinics, with regular case discussions, responding to feedback about service so developing a musculoskeletal network across the Bay. All referrals to orthopaedics and iMSK are reviewed before appointments are allocated to ensure that you are seen by the most appropriate person. If after diagnosis and treatment in iMSK you continue to have a problem they can refer you directly to the consultant.”
Andy Knox, GP Executive Lead for Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “By bringing care for these conditions into the community and making them easier to access, patients living with musculoskeletal conditions will get the care they need more quickly, improve their quality of life and be enabled to live with these conditions with a better understanding of how to help themselves or to access the help they need.”