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First Community is trialling two new schemes to improve access to MSK (musculoskeletal) services in east Surrey. The services are for patients suffering from either short or long-term issues that affect muscles, joints, bones, ligaments and tendons and can lead to onward referrals into physiotherapy, specialist advanced practitioner services and MSK consultant services. Patients registered at selected GP surgeries in the area will be able to benefit from direct access to specialist outpatient physiotherapists. The work is commissioned by East Surrey CCG. First Community provides NHS community nursing and thrapies, including physiotherapy.

Self-referrals to MSK services

Patients aged 16 years and above registered at Lingfield Surgery and Elizabeth House Medical Practice are now able to self-refer to First Community’s MSK services. The appointments will be held at one of First Community’s outpatient clinics in Caterham, Oxted and East Surrey Hospital. Patients can download and complete a self-referral form from First Community’s website www.firstcommunityhealthcare.co.uk,  email it to fchccic.msk@nhs.net or post it to Oxted Therapies Unit, Barnetts Shaw, Oxted RH8 0NQ.  Paper copies of the forms are also available from Lingfield and Elizabeth House surgeries.

Specialist physiotherapist at GP surgeries

In partnership with Alliance for Better Care and First Community, patients aged 18 years and above registered at Moat House Surgery in Merstham, Woodlands  Surgery in Earlswood and Lingfield Surgery, as well as Greystone House Surgery and Holmhurst Medical Centre both in Redhill,  are able to see a specialist physiotherapist for an assessment at their GP surgery without having to see their GP first. Patients can book an appointment by telephoning the usual surgery number.  The receptionist may ask questions to check an assessment with a physiotherapist is right for the patient. Appointments will last approximately 20 minutes. The physiotherapist will assess symptoms, provide advice and discuss treatment options, including onward referral.

More information about both schemes, including eligibility criteria, can be found here.

Su Ryan Head of Therapies at First Community said: ‘Both routes into these physiotherapy services are suitable for people experiencing joint pain, strains and sprains and back/neck pain. Around 20% of GP appointments relate to these conditions. Ordinarily, when a patient wants to access physiotherapy services they must wait to see their GP, then once referred, wait again to see a physiotherapist. The new schemes will reduce the number of steps patients need to take to access physiotherapy, ensuring they receive the right care at the right time and freeing up appointments for those who need to see a GP.’

Both trials last for 12 months and, if successful, could be extended to other GP surgeries in east Surrey.