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Pioneering partnership to improve care for patients with muscle and joint problems

20 June 2012

Patients in a central London borough will benefit from a new partnership between one of the best performing NHS trusts and the largest independent provider of community musculoskeletal (MSK) services to the NHS.

Photo: Senior Physiotherapist James Close assists a patient with her therapy

Patients in a central London borough will benefit from a new partnership between one of the best performing NHS trusts and the largest independent provider of community musculoskeletal (MSK) services to the NHS.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Connect Physical Health will provide the Kensington and Chelsea Community Musculoskeletal Service, the first fully integrated community MSK service to be provided by an NHS trust and an independent sector provider working in an equal partnership - it is due to be launched to patients on Monday 3 September.

The service will be led by a consultant and will include specialist physiotherapists and osteopaths, all working together to care for patients with musculoskeletal pain, including neck, back and shoulder problems.

The partnership brings together Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s expert specialist staff with Connect’s proven track record in delivering high quality services to the NHS for the last 18 years.

Karen Robertson, Divisional Director of Operations for Clinical Support Services at Chelsea and Westminster, says: “We will have a network of clinics in both hospital and health centre settings so that patients can access the new community MSK service close to where they live.

“All patients living in Kensington and Chelsea will be no more than a 10-minute bus or car journey from a centre providing our new service.”

Andrew Walton, Chief Executive of Connect Physical Health and a physiotherapist by background, adds: “Not only will we be able to provide care close to where people live but also patients will be able to choose how they access the service.

“This partnership will transform the way that services are delivered by improving access for patients to a highly skilled and talented workforce of specialist physiotherapists, osteopaths, doctors and other staff.

“The first point of contact for patients who are referred by their GP is that within 48 hours a physiotherapist will call them to discuss their problem and give advice. If a face-to-face consultation is required, the patient will be offered a choice of times and locations across the borough, there and then.”

The Kensington and Chelsea Community Musculoskeletal Service was commissioned by NHS Kensington and Chelsea following a competitive bidding process.

Local GP Dr Naomi Katz says: “As GP MSK Clinical Lead I am absolutely delighted that Chelsea and Westminster and Connect Physical Health have won the contract to provide our community musculoskeletal service.

“This presents a unique opportunity for our patients to have the excellent quality of care that Chelsea and Westminster staff already provide along with the PhysioLine which all patients will have access to within 48 hours of being referred by their GP.”

Dominique Kleyn, a patient representative from Kensington & Chelsea Local Improvement Network (LINk), was also involved in the commissioning of the new service.

She says: “I found the mix of people on our project was very effective with patients working alongside a clinical expert and procurement professionals. The process was inclusive and as a result we managed to combine choice for patients with a cost-effective service specification.”

MSK factfile

  • 1 in 4 adults in the UK are affected by longstanding MSK problems
  • MSK conditions are responsible for up to 30% of GP consultations
  • Up to 60% of people on long-term sick leave cite MSJ problems as the reason for their absence from work
  • The NHS spends more than £4 billion a year on MSK services, making it the fifth highest area of NHS spending
  • Advances in physiotherapy, exercise and medications mean that there is an opportunity for services to be provided in the community, through the introduction of primary care commissioning of MSK services