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Physios save services

6 May 2011 - 10:11am

Physios have helped stop planned cuts to physiotherapy services that would have seen chronically ill patients limited to just one session of physiotherapy each.

The proposals had been agreed by South West Essex Primary Care Trust, based in Basildon, as part of a package of measures to save £134,000 from the trust’s musculoskeletal physio services budget.

The measures, agreed by the PCT’s board earlier this year, would have seen patients classed as ‘chronic’ – with an injury that required treatment more than eight weeks after it happened – seen only for assessment and then issued with a care plan by physios.


Services to other patients would also have been rationed.

But following the trust’s decision, CSP stewards and frontline physios working for South West Essex Community Services, which provide the MSK service, raised concerns at the effect of the cuts.

Subsequently, senior physiotherapy and allied health profession managers analysed the pattern of MSK treatment over the past year and found that a small number of patients accounted for a ‘disproportionate amount of clinical contacts’.


These patients had been seen more often than necessary, and a stringent monitoring system was proposed.

A proposal was put to South West Essex PCT that there would be an overall reduction in patient contacts, and a cut in the use of non-essential equipment, to ensure that necessary financial savings would be made.

Five treatments

Under the proposals, more patients would be seen in groups, all patients would be limited to a maximum of five contacts, and there would be an average ratio of three follow-up appointments to each assessment, but this can vary if clinically necessary.

But, importantly, chronic patients would not be limited to one physio appointment.

CSP steward at South West Essex PCT, Lee Matthews, said the proposals showed how physios could work to protect services even where savings had to be made.

‘Physios challenged this decision, but didn’t just oppose it,’ he said.


‘We made constructive suggestions to find a way forward to save money, but without the huge rationing that was planned.’

CSP practice unit head, Claire Strickland, said the success in South West Essex showed that by making strong professional arguments, and working with members, the CSP could help to achieve better outcomes for patients.

No one at the PCT was available for comment.


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