Northern Ireland physios triumph at Advancing Healthcare Awards

An RAF physiotherapy medical support officer and a first contact physiotherapy (FCP) pilot both won awards at this year’s Advancing Healthcare Awards Northern Ireland.

The first contact physiotherapy team from South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust at the awards ceremony

The FCP project, which saw musculoskeletal physiotherapy delivered in a GP practice inNewtownards, County Down, won the Health and Social Care Board award for enhancing support in primary care.

The pilot scheme, run by South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, started in December 2017 involved a physiotherapist based at Comber Health Centre.

Principal physiotherapist Stephen Mcgarrigle, advanced physiotherapy practitioner Cailin Hynes and AveenMcCraith, the trust’s physiotherapy lead, received their award at a ceremony held in Belfast earlier this month.

Ms McCraith told Frontline: ‘We are delighted that all the hard work and the team approach that has gone into making this project a success has been recognised.

‘We also wish to acknowledge the support provided by Margaret Moorehead, AHP assistant director at the trust, and the GPs and staff at Comber Health Centre who helped facilitate the pilot.’

The FCP initiative allowed Ms Hynes to act as the first contact for patients with musculoskeletal conditions, providing initial assessments and, where appropriate, treatment or an onward referral.

During the pilot, she provided 20 minute appointments – twice as long as a GP but for the same cost – and used advanced practitioner skills such as non-medical prescribing and injection therapy.

An evaluation of collected data showed that

  • 97 per cent of patients were seen by the FCPwithout the need for GP involvement
  • 91 per cent of patients were discharged following their initial assessment with the FCP, with no further input required from the practice
  • 31 per cent of patients were referred on to secondary care – a 25 per cent reduction

 And to date, 55 hours of GP time at the health centre has been saved, with high levels of stakeholder and patient satisfaction reported.

FCP expands across Northern Ireland

Following on from the success of the pilot, South Eastern Health and Social care trust has been chosen to work with the Down GP Federation as an early implementer site to roll out the introduction ofFCPs in 13 GP practices.

‘We have successfully recruited eight band 8A FCP staff and are working on successful implementation of this model with our GP and physiotherapy colleagues across Northern Ireland,’ said Ms McCraith

‘The FCP’s knowledge and understanding of trust services will enhance the patient journey and they will provide advice and guidance to other multidisciplinary team members, about trust pathways and thresholds for intervention.’

RAF reservist officer Jamie Wilson

RAF reserve officer physio wins award

Meanwhile, physiotherapy medical support officer Jamie Wilson, who is an RAF reservist with the 502 Ulster Squadron, received the Reservist AHP Award.

The judging panel praised Mr Wilson for qualifying as a physiotherapist, becoming a reservist officer and coping with the challenge of a stammer, which he had since childhood.

He told Frontline: ‘As someone who does not naturally carry the mantle of praise well it was humbling to receive my award and reassuring to understand that my efforts have been appreciated.

‘More decorated men than me make their living inspiring others, however I do hope that all physios continue to look to their passions in healthcare and find opportunity to make a difference.’

Mr Wilson is part of the military’s Defence Stammering Network Committee, and is the only reserve officer on the committee.

UK charity Action for Stammering Children have also invited him to interview as one of their ambassadors, and he has received a Joint Force Air Component Commander’s commendation for his services to charity.

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