Matthew Carr bringing MSK clinical services together

Physiotherapy skills such as communication and multi-tasking have proved invaluable to Matthew Carr in his role as a clinical director

Matthew Carr: bringing MSK clinical services together

Matthew Carr is clinical director of Sussex MSK Partnership East. His previous experience includes working as an advanced practitioner specialising in spinal conditions, and establishing a musculoskeletal physiotherapy workforce across East Sussex and Kent. Matthew lives in Brighton.

Tell us about your current role?

I have been in post for one year now and have the responsibility to ensure the MSK clinical services across our region are delivering the best possible standards of care. This includes supporting local GPs with regular clinical training, and working with a team of advance practitioners to deliver clinical triage and assessment in the community. I regularly engage with the local physiotherapy, orthopaedic, rheumatology and pain services to ensure all parts of the system integrate efficiently.

Alongside this, I am completing a master’s degree in clinical research supported by the National Institute of Health Research. The focus of my degree is to establish a framework to support the development of clinical expertise for physiotherapists. 

Did you see your role as a new challenge?

I was attracted to my current role because I believed that as a physiotherapist I could bring all the MSK clinical services together. Having worked in GP practices, in integrated community services and alongside orthopaedic surgeons, I felt well placed to understand the challenges and opportunities involved. 

Taking on this role has certainly been a challenge. It has required me to work across numerous clinical teams, of varying professional backgrounds. But I really enjoy working to optimise how each service contributes to a large, integrated system of healthcare.

When I took on the role, we were still seen as a region which performed too much orthopaedic surgery, compared to the national average.

‘We performed too much orthopaedic surgery... but we’ve more than halved it’

This was costing more than £6 million a year. Through the efforts of our advanced practitioners and community services, we have more than halved this by involving patients in the choice of their care and by offering a wider range of treatments in the community.

How useful are your physio skills in being a clinical director?

The transferable skills I bring to this role have been invaluable. The communication skills I gained by reflecting on my thousands of patient interactions have helped a lot. Also, to ensure a good outcome from a patient consultation you very quickly have to take the measure of a patient by carefully listening to what they say and tailoring your communication to match each patient’s needs and preferences. 

These skills come in very handy for engaging with commissioners and other stakeholders when you have very limited time to make a meaningful impact. 

Other skills learned in my physiotherapy practice, such as good time management, clear goal setting and flexibly managing multiple priorities, have also come in really useful. 

What next for you?

I love being involved in leading and developing clinical services, and trying to ensure we can demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of what we are doing. There is still a lot more I hope to enhance in the service, so I am working hard to engage with the commissioners. 

I also hope that the framework developed during my masters’ research could lead to further studies to evaluate its effectiveness, before widespread implementation. And hopefully I can use the experiences of my current role to take on more complex healthcare leadership challenges in the future.

What keeps you awake at night?

Not a lot. My brain is frazzled after a long day at work or studying, so I don’t have much trouble nodding off. I do have a new puppy though, and sometimes he can manage to wake me up early, particularly when he wants to play at 5.00am.

How do you relax?

Walks on the South Downs with my husband and my dog and lots of different exercise to de-stress. Dinner and drinks with friends and family. 

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