Health :: Burnham unveils faster orthopaedic treatment plan

New plans for faster, better and more convenient care for the millions of people who suffer from bone and joint ailments such as arthritis, back pain and fractures were announced today by Health Minister Andy Burnham.

The Musculoskeletal Services Framework (MSF) provides the NHS with new guidance to help improve services for people who suffer from such conditions, helping patients to be seen sooner and closer to their homes. An estimated ten million people in England suffer from musculoskeletal problems.

The guidance sets out how the NHS can use a wider range of health professionals including physiotherapists, nurses and pharmacists in addition to GPs and hospital consultants.

By using more staff to treat patients – rather than just the traditional GP-consultant axis – patients will receive faster treatment and in a more convenient setting such as closer to their own home rather than have to travel to hospital.

Launching the new guidance, Andy Burnham said:

“We know that patients with long term conditions such as arthritis and back pain want to be treated closer to their own homes rather than have to go in and out of hospital.

“The new guidance I’m launching today will mean that this will be possible for more patients, all supported by high quality hospital based services where they are needed.

“It will also mean faster treatment for patients. Implementing the framework will enable patients to be seen sooner by a health professional without the need to wait for a consultation with a surgeon. However, patients that still need to see a surgeon will do so.”

“The MSF is a real partnership success, as it has been developed by specialists working with stakeholders and so has the endorsement of the profession.

“The framework is also crucial to delivering the 18 week pathway for the maximum wait from GP referral to hospital treatment, as orthopaedic waiting times present one of the greatest challenges to meeting the target.”

Neil Betteridge, Chief Executive of Arthritis Care and Chair of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance said:

“The Musculoskeletal Services Framework is a unique opportunity to shape frontline services for a generation. User groups have been centrally involved in the development of the Framework, which is reflected in the emphasis on services being integrated and holistic and thus truly patient-centred.”

I believe the Framework, if implemented well, will have a material impact on the quality of life of people with musculoskeletal conditions, whether a child newly diagnosed with arthritis or an older person with osteoporosis needing support to self manage.

“I encourage local commissioners to work together with user groups and professionals in their area to make this a reality for all people with musculoskeletal conditions, wherever they live.”

1. The Our Health Our Care Our Say White Paper 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.

2. Case study:

Pennine Musculo Skeletal Medicine Partnership is a Specialist Personal Medical Services partnership that has been commissioned by Oldham PCT to provide a comprehensive service to the population of Oldham in Rheumatology, Orthopaedics and Chronic Pain.

It started on 1 March 2006 and is designed to screen GP referrals into secondary care, managing those patients who did not need to see a consultant rheumatologist and ensuring those patients 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.

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