New service to slash need for hospital visits

A £4.6m service to be launched this summer aims to reduce hospital visits for many patients by nearly a third.

A new community-based approach will target sufferers with musculoskeletal and orthopaedic problems in York and Selby from June 1.

Commissioned by York Health Group and NHS North Yorkshire and York, the project aims to reduce hospital visits by up to 30 per cent among patients needing treatment.

It will mean fewer have to go to hospital with problems which affect the body's muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. These patients will be seen nearer to their home, thanks to the new scheme.

It is estimated nearly one in three of all GP consultations are about complaints such as osteoarthritis, neck pain, ligament injuries, sprains and strains.

Instead of having to go to hospital, patients will be seen locally by specialists including physiotherapists, pain specialists and foot and ankle specialists – benefiting around 300,000 registered service users.

Alistair Hopkinson, chief executive of York Health Group, said: "The aim is to see patients more quickly and closer to their home, in a healthcare setting which is more appropriate. We hope to improve the clinical outcomes for patients and, in the long term, help reduce disability.

"We know that many patients do not actually need to go to hospital. They just need to be seen and treated by a specialist who understands their problem. It's also going to save money which can be reinvested into patient care. Above all, we are making things better for patients, making it quicker and easier for them to get the health care they need."

York GP Dr Mark Hayes said: "This new community service means a better and quicker service for patients, which is also value for money. By freeing up hospital appointments, it also means the hospital can concentrate on the more serious specialist treatments for patients."