New Northumberland physiotherapy service 'going well despite teething issues'

Northumberland’s new physiotherapy service, which proved controversial when announced, is going well despite some teething issues, a meeting heard.

Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 4:14 pm
Updated Monday, 9th September 2019, 4:18 pm
Stock picture by Pixabay

And Siobhan Brown, chief operating officer of NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said that problems that are reported are being resolved ‘within hours’.

In June, the CCG announced that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust had been awarded the contract to provide a new service in partnership with Connect Health.

It was claimed that the Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service (JMAPS) ‘will improve access for patients and provide them with the opportunity to choose care based on their desired outcomes and personal preferences’.

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Siobhan Brown, chief operating officer of NHS Northumberland CCG.

However, there were concerns that the service was being reduced and would only operate from seven centres around the county – Alnwick, Berwick, Blyth, Hexham, Morpeth, Rothbury and Wansbeck General Hospital.

So, in response to the outrcry from residents, the CCG later revealed that JMAPS would operate from a range of other sites as well – Allendale, Amble and Broomhill, Bellingham, Cramlington-based Brockwell Medical Group, Haltwhistle, Ponteland, Prudhoe, Seahouses and Wooler.

An update to Tuesday’s (September 3) meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing committee revealed that all 5,039 transition patients had been registered with the new service by July 26.

Plus, from its launch on July 1 up to August 5, there had been 3,728 new referrals.

August 5 had previously been announced as the target date for the additional sites to be up and running, but this was not met.

However, as of the end of this week, all but Seahouses will have held their first clinics. Seahouses’ will be on September 26 as an IT upgrade is required.

The CCG said that the key issues with the transition were access to patient information and confusion over the choice of venue.

JMAPS uses the IT system SystmOne, which is also used by 32 of the 41 GP practices in Northumberland, but it took four weeks to get data-sharing agreements from all of the practices.

The venue issue related to patients being offered the first available appointment, not necessarily the nearest one, plus there being reduced sessions due to annual leave and the services not being available at all of the different sites at the same time.

Ms Brown explained that patients are currently being given an option so they can choose to wait until the next available appointment at the location of their choice.

Committee member Coun Trevor Cessford said that he had had cause to use the system and found it to work well, getting an appointment within a number of days of seeing his doctor.