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FAST clinic quickens care

A self-help focused approach that is cutting waiting times for women with pelvic floor problems has been highly commended in the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes, announced in London last night (26 November).

The new treatment model known as FAST (Fast Assessment, Start Treatment) was developed by a team of specialist physiotherapists at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The initiative focuses on providing short courses of physiotherapy treatment immediately on referral, supported by targeted self-help training.

The model replaces the traditional approach, which can involve a three to five month wait for a more comprehensive physiotherapy package.

The team has discovered that half of the patients they see are able to manage their condition with self-care and recover more quickly by starting self-treatment immediately.  As a result, throughput in the pelvic floor clinic has increased by 50 per cent.

The team is currently exploring direct referral to consultants for surgical opinion for the 20 per cent of cases that require access to secondary care to reduce waiting times for this group.

Sally Sheppard is Poole Hospital’s team lead for the women’s and men’s health physiotherapy service.

She said: “The scheme has been a huge success with three quarters of patients who accessed the service able to manage their own conditions with tailored advice.  “Around half of all patients required attendance at only one single FAST appointment and informal feedback from GPs suggests that patients are pleased that waiting times have been reduced.

“Typically physiotherapy care prior to this service would have involved around five to seven hours of specialist physiotherapist time – now half of all cases require just half an hour to an hour of physiotherapist time.”

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant CBE, chair of NHS England said: “It is a sign of the commitment and talent within the NHS that this year’s awards saw a record number of entries and winners of such high quality and potential.

“We need to find new ways of working if the NHS is going to be fit to face the challenges ahead and we know that those ideas need to come from the people delivering care on a daily basis. It is tremendously encouraging to see innovations like this from frontline staff making a real difference to the NHS and patients.”

The initiative was highly commended in the ‘reducing avoidable attendances in primary care’ category of the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes.

The NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes aim to identify and spread innovations from frontline staff, which will help solve some of the biggest challenges the NHS faces today.  The latest round of prizes attracted a record number of entries.

For further information visit www.england.nhs.uk/challengeprizes

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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