GPs bringing streamlined care close to home

NHS patients in Swadlincote are now being treated far more quickly – and closer to home – for three conditions.
The improvement is thanks to the town’s six GP practices which joined forces to develop a streamlined care pathway for patients with hearing problems, cervical polyps and carpal tunnel syndrome (CPS) – a trapped nerve that causes pain and numbness in the wrist.
Before last September, patients were referred routinely to hospital for treatment. But the development of a point-by-point treatment pathway, coupled with extra training for GPs, means that most patients are now treated at their own surgery.
The redesign means that patients are referred to hospital in only the most serious cases.
Between September and March there were 98 fewer referrals to hospital for CPS than in the six months before the new pathway was introduced.
The reduction is good news for Queen’s Hospital and Carlton Street Surgery, Burton; Royal Derby Hospital; and Sir Robert Peel Hospital, Tamworth; which can now focus attention on cases that demand more specialist treatment.
In addition, the Swadlincote practices, which are part of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have started to provide free splints for CPS sufferers. The splint supports the wrist and relieves the aching and numbness that can keep patients awake at night.
The splints are being paid for with money saved by reducing hospital admissions paid for by the CCG.
What is more, the availability of splints in practices means that patients no longer have to travel to hospital, sometimes taking hours out of their day, for a two-minute procedure.
Dr Roger Follows, Planned Care Lead for NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
“Our aim was to streamline the care pathway for these conditions so that patients didn’t have to go to hospital unnecessarily.
“The new, improved system means quicker treatment and less anxiety, pain and inconvenience for patients. The new pathway also gives better value for money, which is good news for the NHS and taxpayer in economically challenging times.”
The CCG is now considering how learning from these initiatives can be shared with the other 51 practices to enable them to benefit from this work. 
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is one of four clinical commissioning groups in the county responsible for the healthcare of people in Derbyshire.

Charles Malkin, Communications Officer

Tel: 01246 514971/07825 274111

Ref: SD/RHR/3

Published: 25/04/2014