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Win-win for patients and staff in physio-led seven-days-a-week assessment service

31 October 2013 - 12:07pm

The number of patients waiting more than 24 hours for a physiotherapy assessment at Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, Northern Ireland, has been dramatically cut by an award-winning  ‘seven-day working’ pilot.

The pilot project saw the amount of patients waiting more than a day fall from 22 per cent to seven per cent.

The scheme, which ran from December 2012 to March 2013, is being reintroduced as a full service.

It won the multidisciplinary working award at the inaugural Northern Ireland Allied Health Professional conference, held in Lisburn, County Antrim, on 23 October.

According to Jane Davidson, clinical lead for physiotherapy services at the hospital, seven-day working by an interdisciplinary team on the medical wards benefited both patients and staff.

‘A big benefit was our ability to respond to weekend admissions, rather than people coming in late Friday and having to wait until Monday for their first assessment,’ said Ms Davidson.

‘So there was no pile of new referrals on a Monday and I think it created a less stressful working life for staff.’

Improved communication

The pilot was supervised by Emer Hopkins, physiotherapy team lead, who supported staff and liaised with clinicians on the medical wards.

It reduced the average length of time patients stayed in rehabilitation and medical beds from 48 to 38 days and improved communication between staff and carers.

‘I honestly feel that all services should be seven days for patients,’ said Bridie McKeating, physiotherapy lead for the trust.

‘There was a huge impact on relatives, in that they had an opportunity to speak with staff – and staff had an opportunity to speak with carers.’

Ms McKeating added that it is important to use resources effectively, to enhance treatment for patients and promote early discharges.

Engage with staff

CSP senior negotiating officer Claire Ronald said: ‘We’re really pleased to see physiotherapy winning this award.

‘However, it is important when seven day or extended working is being proposed that there is full and appropriate engagement with the staff and with the union and it is important that these developments are appropriately resourced .’

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