Currently the route to treatment runs between the local general practitioner (GP) and the specialist, with a maximum wait of up to 18 weeks from the GP’s referral to hospital treatment.
The new Musculoskeletal Services Framework (MSF), announced by Health Minister Andy Burnham this November, will provide the country’s National Health Service (NHS) with guidance to help improve services by providing faster, better and more convenient treatment for musculoskeletal patients. It shows how the health service can use a wider range of health professionals, including physiotherapists, nurses and pharmacists, as well as GPs and hospital consultants, and how, by using a range of professionals, patients will receive faster treatment, closer to their own home rather than have to travel to hospital.
The MFS is a real partnership success, as it has been developed by specialists working with stakeholders and so has the endorsement of the profession, said Andy Burnham, adding that patients with long-term conditions, such as arthritis and back pain, prefer treatment close to home, rather than having to travel to and from a hospital. ‘The new guidance will mean that this will be possible for more patients, all supported by high quality hospital based services where they are needed,’ he said. ‘It will also mean faster treatment for patients. Implementing the framework will enable them to be seen sooner by a health professional without the need to wait for a consultation with a surgeon. However, patients who still need to see a surgeon will do so.’
The Our Health Our Care Our Say White Paper, produced by the Department of Health, set out a vision to provide people with good quality care in the communities where they live. It identified orthopaedics as one of the six specialties where the greatest progress could be made and the evaluation of pilot sites is already underway. The Department of Health is working closely with a group of key NHS stakeholders to co-ordinate these pilots with the ongoing work to tackle the challenges of meeting the 18-week target in orthopaedics. The MSF is central to this work.
In March, this year, the Pennine Musculoskeletal Medicine Partnership, a Specialist Personal Medical Services partnership was commissioned by Oldham PCT to provide a comprehensive service to the population of Oldham in Rheumatology, Orthopaedics and Chronic Pain.
The pilot study is designed to screen GP referrals for secondary care, managing those patients who did not need to see a consultant rheumatologist, and ensuring patients who were referred on to secondary care were fully investigated before seeing the consultant. The service is managed by the PCT and clinically led by Dr Alan Nye (GPSI Rheumatology) and Anne Browne (Nurse Consultant Rheumatology) with input from specialist physiotherapy, liaison psychiatry and osteoporosis nurse specialist.
The service has been highly successful with 70% diversion of GP referrals away from secondary care, with high levels of patient, staff and GP satisfaction, the Department of Health reports.
Guidance details: www.dh.gov.uk