Improving muscle, joints and bone services for patients

NHS Ayrshire & Arran has been redesigning musculoskeletal (MSK) services for people who have problems with their muscles, joints and / or bones.

Musculoskeletal problems are the most commonly reported work-related illness, and take up more than 30 per cent of all GP consultations. Pain in the lower back is the most common musculoskeletal problem affecting an estimated 18 million people in the UK.

The musculoskeletal service is mainly provided in the community, where patients have a single point of contact for a range of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists and orthotists. The team includes advanced practitioners who can, if needed, arrange investigations such as x-rays. In the new service, the most appropriate clinician will assess patients in a health care facility close to their home. Any necessary referral to hospital services - for example, orthopaedics - can be made without the need for further GP consultation, making best use of resources.

To make our services easier to access, the Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) run by NHS24 will be available to people in Ayrshire and Arran from 15 October 2012. NHS24 staff will ask callers a series of questions to see if they can manage the problem themselves or if they need to see a healthcare professional. If patients need referred to our local services we receive their details electronically and contact them with an appointment.

Judith Reid Consultant Physiotherapist in MSK, commented: “We know that it’s important for sufferers to have quick and easy access to key information to help them manage their problem. It can speed up their recovery and keep people at work, rather than having to go off sick.”

With this new process being rolled out across Scotland, a range of resources have been developed to provide the most up-to-date advice and information. These are available on the internet.

For the resources visit www.nhsinform.co.uk and select the Musculoskeletal Zone.