Sussex physio team slashes waiting list with one day events

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, has commended a team of physios in Sussex for their innovative and community-based solution to help patients get the treatment they need more quickly.


Earlier this year, the Sussex MSK Partnership service was facing a record backlog with some patients waiting up to 22 weeks to be seen, so the team booked out a leisure centre and invited everyone on their list to attend.

Over the course of two days, the service halved its waiting list. Of the 550 who attended the events 50 per cent were discharged and 30 per cent were directed to other services.

Meanwhile, those who could not attend the events saw their waiting time reduced by an average of five weeks, and only 10 per cent of those discharged needed further support.

The team appeared on BBC South East news yesterday evening, reporting live from their third ‘Community Appointment Day’ which was held at a local leisure centre in Crawley.

It is essentially a ‘one stop shop’ with lots of services under one roof. Patients were able to have a one-to-one assessment, access a physio appointment on site, as well as meet with other voluntary organisations and charity services to address their needs holistically.

Their approach is the embodiment of the rehab model described in the integrated care framework (ICF) and new model for community rehabilitation published by NHSE last month.

Laura Finucane, clinical director of Sussex MSK Partnership, said: ‘We focused on conversations rather than consultations, to find out what was most important to everyone.

This approach is particularly effective because our waiting list is full of people with complex conditions and multiple needs and the back or knee pain is often just a fraction of it

‘We also recognise that our staff, following covid, are really burnt out and feel isolated and what this day has done is allowed them to connect with and support each other in a very different way and this has boosted morale and been really critical for us in our retention of staff.’

The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust is now planning to roll out Community Appointment Days as part of its standard programme.

CSP professional adviser Clare Aldridge said: ‘It’s been fantastic to have had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of a patient and see how personalised care is being used proactively.

‘The staff in Sussex have been trained and supported to be upskilled to have these important and personal conversations with patients.

I think this model will be useful for other services to learn from and adapt to suit their own patient population

A model example

A patient speaks to a physio in a leisure centre during the Community Appointment Day in Crawley.

Sara Hazzard, CSP assistant director of strategic communications, said: ‘This is really a one stop shop for patients to get the exact kind of support they need. There’s everything here from physiotherapy services to social prescribers and voluntary health and wellbeing community services.

‘It’s been amazing to see patients arrive here and leave feeling supported and seen. Often, they didn’t even realise what they wanted or needed until they started to have these conversations based around what actually matters to them in their lives.

We know that not getting rehab can have catastrophic consequences on every part of a person’s life

'The upside of these events is that people can get exactly what they do need, which in turn improves every part of their life.’

If this model sounds like it could work in your area, join the conversation on iCSP or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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