At the end of January 2019 First Community in collaboration with Alliance for Better Care (ABC) launched a new service where local people can see a specialist physiotherapist at their GP surgery. The new service enables patients aged 18 years and above registered at three GP surgeries in east Surrey to make an appointment with a First Community specialist physiotherapist for an assessment at their GP surgery without having to see their GP first. Two further surgeries will offer the service from April 2019.
The appointments are suitable for people with joint pain, strains and sprains and back/neck pain. Patients will be seen by a MSK (musculoskeletal) physiotherapist. MSK physiotherapy treats patients who have issues that affect muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
We caught up with Kim Montgomery, First Community Senior MSK Physiotherapist, who has been providing the specialist physiotherapy appointments, to see how the first three weeks of the scheme have been.
Kim said: ‘The scheme has proven popular with patients and GPs already. In the last two weeks all my appointments were booked up. Patients tell me they have benefited from being able to see a specialist so quickly and from having a longer appointment.’
The physiotherapy appointments at GP surgeries are 20 minutes long compared to standard GP appointments which are usually 10 minutes long. This allows more time to discuss the problem and explore potential treatment options in more detail. The new service also helps prepare patients for any onward treatment as Kim is able to offer advice and exercises to patients who she is referring for further physiotherapy services so they understand their condition and the treatment options.
National data estimates musculoskeletal conditions alone account for around one in five GP appointments. Ordinarily, when a patient wants to access physiotherapy services they must wait to see their GP, then once referred, wait again to see a physiotherapist. The new scheme reduces the number of steps patients need to take to access physiotherapy, ensuring they receive the right care at the right time and freeing up appointments for those who need to see a GP.
‘I am getting very positive feedback from the GPs. They tell me I am relieving some of their appointments so there are more available for patients who need to see a GP. They have also commented that they are benefiting from having a Senior MSK Physiotherapist on site that they can go to for expertise and advice.’
Having a specialist physiotherapist based at the GP surgeries also has benefits for the wider physiotherapy service provided by First Community. Kim’s knowledge of the physiotherapy services means she is able to make appropriate onward referrals to the physiotherapy service or to Integrated Care and Assessment Treatment Service (ICATS).
Kim said: ‘I am really enjoying this exciting new role. It is expanding my knowledge and skills and it challenges me to problem solve quickly as every patient is so different. I’m also enjoying working alongside and learning from the GPs, nurse practitioners and wellbeing advisors. Most of all, it’s great seeing the positive impact that the scheme is having on both patients and the wider local health care system.’
Caption: Kim ouside one of the GP surgeries taking part in the pilot
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For more information contact: Jenny Rawlinson or Maddy Sciberras at First Community, 01737 775 462.
Notes for editors:
First Community is an award-winning organisation which is part of the NHS family delivering community healthcare services in east Surrey and the surrounding area. We offer a friendly face with highly rated, well-run services, delivered by our skilled people. We provide high-quality nursing and therapy services, children and family services as well as a rehabilitation ward and minor injury unit at Caterham Dene Hospital. First Community was rated overall Outstanding by CQC in 2017.
Visit firstcommunityhealthcare.co.uk for more information about First Community.
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