Self-referral halves DNA rates

A physiotherapy self-referral scheme that has cut missed appointments by 60 per cent, and offered more than 90 per cent of appointments within three days, has been expanded to almost double in size.

The self-referral scheme for outpatient MSK physiotherapy services, run by Torbay and South Devon Health and Care NHS Trust, now serves around 200,000 people across the county, following a successful pilot scheme.

Before the rapid access self-referral scheme was introduced some patients were waiting up to 10 weeks for a physiotherapy appointment at the trust.

Since its introduction, between 17 and 24 per cent of appointments were made via self-referral, and 33 per cent of patients were seen only once.

The trust’s head of physiotherapy, Vicki Sheen, said the quicker access to physiotherapy meant more patients were seen before their conditions became chronic.

Patients are given a 45-minute initial appointment, and are then expected to arrange follow-up appointments, with some exceptions.

She said the scheme had empowered patients with the knowledge to make their own appointments and manage their conditions, and it had cut inefficiencies from the system.

The CSP has been a long-time supporter of self referral. Its professional advisor, Ruth ten Hove, welcomed the news.

 ‘This excellent service improvement highlights the benefits to the whole service of including patient self referral,’ she said.

‘The “opt in” service means that the waiting list includes patients who want to be seen.

That means non-attendances  are reduced and patients are more likely to complete their treatment and be satisfied with it.

Graham Clews

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