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​Positive patient feedback helps to increase the number of community Musculoskeletal clinics

A successful pilot of community Musculoskeletal (iMSK) clinics is being expanded, with a further five clinics being setup across south Cumbria.

The scheme began in December 2016 and identifies patients who would benefit from the enhanced community-based musculoskeletal therapy service.

Since the start of the pilot scheme, a total of 490 new patient referrals and 336 follow ups have been seen in the ten clinics held each week. These are now being expanded to 15 clinics a week, which are available to appropriate patients from the 39 GP practices in south Cumbria. The Friends and Family test for the pilot, which had a higher than average response rate, revealed a satisfaction rate of 96%.

The number of referrals was lower than anticipated when using paper referrals only; therefore referrals were opened up to the e-Referral Service on 27th February. As a result there has been an increase in referral numbers with clinics being fully utilised since the beginning of March 2017.

Mr Nigel Courtman, Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon (UHMBT), said: "The iMSK service for patients living in Cumbria has been a long time coming. The concept is not new, and there are many well established services throughout the UK – including a very successful one on our doorstep, based in Heysham.

"Many patients with musculoskeletal problems do not need to see a hospital doctor (Orthopaedic Surgeon) as their first contact. A large part of their assessment and treatment can be based on physical therapy, and indeed many patients have up until now eventually ended up being treated by a professional allied to medicine rather than requiring an operation."

A short film has been created which helps to explain the service and how patients will benefit.

Helen Seward, Advanced Physiotherapist within the new service, said: "It is a way of offering high quality treatment and assessment services which include further investigations such as MRI and blood tests offered to patients who probably don’t need surgery. Those patients are being managed without having to see an orthopaedic consultant and are still getting the same quality of treatment."