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Orthopaedics ‘could do better’ on 18-week target - Congress article 3

Orthopaedics scores worse than average in terms of numbers of patients being treated within this year’s 18-week treatment target in every strategic health authority area in the country, consultant physiotherapist Susie Durrell told the conference.

But the good news was that orthopaedics was no longer the worst performing specialty, according to the most recent figures, published in July, she said. That dubious honour belonged to neurology.

Ms Durrell, who works at Gloucestershire Royal hospital, and is the only allied health professional on the Department of Health’s 18 weeks orthopaedic co-ordinating group, said delivering a maximum 18-week wait for elective care by December this year had been an enormous challenge for the NHS, particularly within orthopaedics. But huge progress had been made by reviewing treatment pathways across boundaries, and by using visionary clinical modelling, she said.

Clinical assessment and treatment centres had also been used to improve services and bring waiting times down. CATS were introduced as part of the DH’s 2006 musculoskeletal framework, but they are run along very varied lines.

Clinical champions were vitally important within CATS, Ms Durrell said, and she added that CATS must be effective across three areas: mindset and capabilities, day-to-day operation, and corporate infrastructure.   The correct workforce must be in place to hit the 18-week target, and there must be links between workforce planning and commissioning, Ms Durrell added.

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