A new action plan is being drawn up to tackle a growing health problem which costs £12million a year to treat in South Tyneside.
The borough’s Intermediate Musculoskeletal (MSK) Service helps people who suffer from joint and muscle conditions.
MSK is a broad term covering common injuries such as a sprained ankle and stiff neck, through to conditions such as arthritis.
Such health issues are the most common reason for repeat consultations with a GP – making up 30% of primary care consultations.
The NHS spends £5billion annually on the management and treatment of MSK.
And in South Tyneside that figure is £12million, placing it in the top six areas of health spend in the borough.
Efficiencies will free up resourcesDr Jon Tose
Now the plan is for the two services which currently provide MSK support in South Tyneside – a community physiotherapy team and a Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) – to merge.
The CATS team, which incorporates doctors and physiotherapists, runs several clinics at venues across South Tyneside, including the Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre in South Shields and the Glen Primary Care Centre in Hebburn.
It is hoped savings from the merger can be invested in more pain management treatment.
A survey is to be carried out to assess the views of the public and patients who use the service in South Tyneside.
And Dr Jon Tose, clinical director of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), is to present a report on the proposal to the council’s People Select Committee next week.
In the report, he says: “The CCG commissions significant community-based services to treat appropriate MSK conditions. There is community physiotherapy, which operates a telephone triage service and a face-to-face treatment service, and there is CATS with diagnostic tests, treatments or therapies via GP referral.
“Both services are run by the same provider but were designed to be operated separately. Both contracts are set to end at the end of March next year.
“There is an opportunity to build on our understanding of the services, together with evidence of the service changes elsewhere in the country. Our preference is a single service which encompasses community physiotherapy and CATs, to streamline patients pathways and combine administrative functions. These efficiencies will free up resources to provide additional components, for example pain management.
“A survey is currently being prepared to see the views of the public and service users and there will be discussions at patient, public and stakeholder events.”