For over 12 months I have had the privilege of being involved in a large number of service transformation and development projects both within the Trust and in the wider health and care landscape. What a 12 months it has been. The variety of the work has been very interesting and fulfilling in equal measure.

Being embedded in the Musculoskeletal Interface Service (MIS) at the Haywood Hospital has given me many opportunities to bring the patient voice and perspective to much of the work being undertaken. Planning new services, transforming existing services to improve the patient experience, developing resources and information to encourage patients to manage their conditions with supported self-management initiatives are among them. One such resource development project, spearheaded by Dr Johny Quicke, is: “Living my life now, keeping active with joint pain”.

With long waiting lists as a result of the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic and the fear that physical activity might make matters worse, people have become a little less active recently. It is well known that keeping moving and active is one of the best things people can do to improve their pain, mobility and wellbeing. However, it is often difficult to know where to start or what activities are best. With this in mind, Dr Quicke has produced, with the help of a number of service users facing this dilemma, an activity pack which is free of charge. Containing a lot of very useful information, a resisted exercise band and a dedicated help line for tailored support and advice, the pack can also be sent out free of charge. People are being encouraged to apply for a pack for themselves, or for a friend or family member who might benefit from some supported self-help. To request an activity pack, you can phone 07812 491603.

This project is indicative of how service users can become involved and contribute to the future design of services. Two other initiatives with improving patients’ experiences at the very core are those of:

Combined Clinics pilot, led by Kay Stevenson and supported by Jason McDonald, and a number of other dedicated professionals

DiAL MSK pilot, led by Dom Ellington and again supported by a dedicated group of clinical and admin staff.

The Combined Clinic is offering patients a one-stop-shop approach where, in one hospital visit patients can see an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner (APP), an Activity Co-ordinator (Dr Quicke in the first instance) and a Wellbeing Practitioner. It is planned that in phase two of the study, a Dietitian will be added to the service offer. The patients who are currently being offered an opportunity to trial this service have overwhelmingly given it the thumbs up and found it a very worthwhile initiative to pursue.

Dom Ellington’s “DiAL MSK”, being piloted in the Cannock, Stafford and Seisdon areas of Staffordshire offers some musculoskeletal (MSK) patients who have been referred to the service by their GP, an opportunity to speak directly with a specialist Physiotherapist for a timely assessment and personal management plan. MSK conditions can be complex; face-to-face consultations may not always be possible or appropriate, but the guiding principles of this innovative project are essentially:

  • Patient to see the right person at the right time
  • Service user and service provider working in collaboration for a better experience for all
  • Patient initiated processes but with supported self-management and personalised care focus
  • Early intervention in treatment pathways with a more flexible approach.

In each of the cases outlined, patients are being encouraged to feed back their experiences of the pilots because the outcomes will inform the future. It’s never been a better time to become engaged and involved in the future of the service and its service offers.