Patients across Northumberland who suffer minor fractures or broken bones can now receive all of their treatment during a single visit to hospital, thanks to a new pilot which starts this week.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has launched the new service, which ensures people who suffer minor breaks to their hands, arms, feet and legs receive all of their treatment at their initial attendance, without having to make a separate journey for a follow-up fracture clinic appointment.
By having a ‘virtual clinic’, patients have the best of both worlds – their injury is reviewed by a specialist however they won’t need to travel further afield or make a separate trip which we know can be difficult for elderly people and those without their own transport.Mr AN Murty, consultant orthopaedic surgeon
Staff in minor injuries units at Alnwick, Berwick and Blyth community hospitals and in emergency care departments at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals have undergone additional training to be able to fit splints and slings. This means patients can go home the same day with this in place rather than having to travel to a fracture clinic to have this done.
For patients in north Northumberland this means they will no longer have to travel what could be over 50 miles to have a splint or sling fitted.
As part of the new service, patients are reviewed in a ‘virtual clinic’ the next day by specialist trauma nurses and orthopaedic consultants who assess the treatment given. Patients will then receive a phone call which, in the majority of cases, will confirm that they do not need an appointment.
If, for any reason, a patient needs to be seen by a specialist trauma nurse or consultant, an appointment will be made for a fracture clinic.
Patients will also be given a special helpline number to contact if they have any worries or concerns.
Ian Joy, matron for emergency care at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Our intention is always to deliver care locally whenever this is safe to do so and this new service will save people travelling out of their area, or having to make a separate journey. Our emergency nurse practitioners in our community and general hospitals are already highly-skilled and able to deal with a whole host of minor injuries, ailments and illnesses.
“By enhancing their skills even further, people with minor fractures or broken bones can now benefit from receiving all their treatment on their first visit to hospital and without an unnecessary separate journey the next day. A range of new information leaflets have been produced to give patients helpful advice about their fracture and where they can seek advice and support.”
Ian said: “As we move towards the opening of our Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in June which will treat people who are seriously ill or injured, the launch of this pilot acts as a timely reminder of the services available to residents in their own communities.”
Any patients who have suffered a more serious fracture or broken bone will need to attend a fracture clinic and will be given an appointment for Wansbeck or North Tyneside general hospitals. From June, the fracture clinics will be held at the new Northumbria hospital in Cramlington.
Mr AN Murty, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the trust, said: “Whereas our fracture clinics are imperative for people who have suffered a more serious fracture and need to be seen by a specialist, for the many people across Northumberland and North Tyneside who have a minor break, they can be expertly treated in their own communities on their first visit to hospital.
“By having a ‘virtual clinic’, patients have the best of both worlds – their injury is reviewed by a specialist however they won’t need to travel further afield or make a separate trip which we know can be difficult for elderly people and those without their own transport. We would like to reassure residents that if they have any questions about their fracture they can ring our helpline for help and advice.”
The helpline number on 01670 529431 is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm. For urgent advice outside of these hours, patients can contact Wansbeck General Hospital on 01670 529884 or North Tyneside General Hospital on 0191 2932515.
The pilot will initially run for two months with the intention that it will be rolled out permanently.