Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions account for 30 per cent of GP consultations in England. Low back and neck pain are the greatest cause of years lost to disability in the UK, with chronic joint pain or osteoarthritis affecting more than 8.75 million people in the UK.
The population of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin is ageing, and more people are living with long term conditions, resulting in the demand for our services continuing to grow.
We need to ensure that our services are sustainable and can meet this demand by strengthening community provision to improve the care that people receive.
We have looked at patterns across a person’s journey in MSK services and found that some people need care and treatment from multiple services, for example orthopaedics and physiotherapy, which have different ways of referring people, recording information, and running their services. This has led to people’s experiences being different depending on how and where they access services, with individuals and staff often feeling frustrated by the time it takes for information to be passed from one service to another, resulting in delays to care and treatment.
Often a person is sent back to their GP to make a further MSK referral rather than the services working together to ensure their needs are met. This is inefficient in terms of waiting time, capacity and cost for both the NHS and the individual. Patient feedback also tells us that this often leaves them feeling as though they are being treated as separate parts rather than as a whole person.
According to our recent survey, people feel respected and listened to when they are undergoing treatment. However, satisfaction with diagnosis and treatment within Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin varies greatly between services. People spoke of experiencing delays from referral to treatments and inconsistent and disjointed care, with a lack of continuity.
The current model of delivery is unsustainable for the future, and we are unlikely to be able to afford future demand for services if they continue to be delivered in the current way.