New service across Newcastle & Gateshead

Posted on Mon, 01/10/2018

A new ‘single point of access’ service for thousands of patients with muscle and joint (musculoskeletal - MSK) problems is to be launched across Newcastle and Gateshead.

TIMS – Tyneside Integrated Musculoskeletal Services – offers self-care and fast access to information, resources and expert opinion about a variety of back, neck, joint or general muscle conditions.

A key aspect of the service is about giving patients greater control of their own care and making it easier for them to self-manage muscular conditions through a dedicated website –  - which goes live today (1 October).

However if additional advice or support is needed, patients can also use the website to refer themselves to access local NHS physiotherapy and other musculoskeletal and pain services without having to visit their own GP first.

This, in turn, will mean those with more complex conditions can be seen more quickly by specialist teams who will, where appropriate, refer them onto a hospital consultant for further assessment.

The community-based initiative – delivered through a partnership between Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust – will be launched on 1 October 2018.

It follows a period of engagement in 2014 when patients and local service providers were asked for their views on the current services available across Newcastle and Gateshead and how these might be improved in the future. Their views helped to establish key elements of the service, including:

  • A dedicated website providing a range of advice, on-line exercises and guidance to support people to self-manage their own MSK problems.

  • A help and advice telephone line for patients and GPs.

  • Providing services closer to home, reducing the need for hospital care and empowering and supporting people to play a role in improving their own health and wellbeing.

  • Locations and opening times: the service will have clinics operating from eight different locations across the area. Service times are 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to midday on Saturdays.

  • A more joined-up community-based service between the two Trusts developed to help patients with musculoskeletal problems manage their condition in the most effective way.

Newcastle’s Head of Therapy Services Stella Wilson said: ““A key focus of our service is supporting self-management and we’ve created a dedicated website to make it easier for patients to manage their own health conditions and access support from other agencies, allowing them to lead as fulfilling and independent lives as possible with less reliance on the healthcare system.

“For those who need further support, TIMS is about ensuring patients’ with musculoskeletal conditions and chronic pain, have equal access to therapy, assessment and treatment, no matter where they live across Newcastle and Gateshead – essentially they’re seeing the right person, in the right place at the right time.

“We’re also working closely with third sector, voluntary organisations and leisure services to guide patients to other appropriate services which can benefit them.”

It is estimated up to 40,000 MSK patients and 800 patients with chronic pain will be managed through the Single Point of Access service.

Claire Coyne, Director of Clinical Support and Screening at Gateshead added:  “This collaborative is about working together across Newcastle and Gateshead to change and enhance patient expectations of how to manage musculoskeletal health conditions, many of which can be done through advice, self-help and exercise.

“It’s an integrated approach to MSK health and wellbeing aimed at developing sustainable support, new pathways of care and signposting within communities.”

Jane Mulholland, Director of Operations and Delivery at NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "We are delighted that the new service is getting underway, helping patients get quick access to the support they need, and supporting them to take more control of their own care."

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