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Healthwatch asks health commissioners to look at MSK physio services


In the last few months, we have heard an increasing number of stories about problems getting an appointment for musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy care. This includes inconsistencies in how to book an appointment and long waits for some patients. 

Some people told us they waited too long for an appointment (up to 21 weeks in one case). Another person told us they couldn't book a physiotherapy appointment directly but had to be referred by their GP. However, their friend from a different part of the county could book an appointment directly with the same physiotherapy provider.  Most people tell us they are getting good care once they are being seen. 

Julie, our Information Officer, started to track down what was happening.  She found that a number of different organisations are providing MSK physiotherapy care in Cambridgeshire. Some are based within hospital teams, whilst others work out in the community. Historically, services in different parts of the county have been commissioned by different organisations; this has led to geographical variations in how people can get a referral to see a physiotherapist.

We spoke to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who plan and pay for most of these services. When we raised these issues with them, they agreed that care was not consistent across the county and they needed to look at how these services are planned and provided.

Due to the complexities around MSK physio services, the CCG decided to include this in their Sustainability and Transformation Programme (STP) planning. The local STP plan was published last month with the aim of providing a joint organisational approach to providing care for local people. It was developed by all the local NHS organisations and government officers.

We are pleased that MSK services will be looked as part of wider health and care system planning. This will help make sure that any inconsistencies can be dealt with as part of looking at how the whole health and care system works for local people. 

Do keep telling us your stories of MSK physio care - we want to hear how easy or hard it was for you to see a physiotherapist and if you got the treatment you needed. You can call us on 01480 420628, email us at enquiries@healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk or tell us online.

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