New physiotherapy service in Southern Trust area

Judith Spence, Advanced Clinical Specialist Physiotherapists and Gareth Hampton, Clinical Director for Emergency Care, Southern Health and Social Care Trust with Michael McKiverigan, one of the patients who has benefitted from the new First Contact Physiotherapy Service at Craigavon Area Hospital.
Judith Spence, Advanced Clinical Specialist Physiotherapists and Gareth Hampton, Clinical Director for Emergency Care, Southern Health and Social Care Trust with Michael McKiverigan, one of the patients who has benefitted from the new First Contact Physiotherapy Service at Craigavon Area Hospital.

Residents in Banbridge will be able to benefit from a new physiotherapy service, which is helping to speed up care for patients who come to Craigavon Area Hospital’s Emergency Department with musculoskeletal problems.

The First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioners are the first of their kind in Northern Ireland to be based in an Emergency Department, seven days a week.

Patients with musculoskeletal injuries like ligament sprains, muscle strains or other soft tissue pain or damage are directly triaged to the team when they arrive at the Emergency Department.

The team of Advanced Clinical Specialist Physiotherapists are seeing around 70 patients a week, managing their full care plan from assessment, investigations, diagnosis, right through to treatment and onward referral if needed.

The Physiotherapists are a very welcome addition to the Emergency Team as Dr Gareth Hampton, Clinical Director for Emergency Care for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust explains: “With around 80,000 attendances each year, we have an extremely busy Emergency Department. We work hard to ensure every patient is treated as quickly and safely as possible however we are always looking for ways to improve the way we deliver our services and the overall experience for patients.

“The First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioners have been a great benefit to the team, but more importantly they are helping us to offer more patients the right care at the right time.

“By being able to offer direct physiotherapy expertise to quite a substantial group of patients as soon as they arrive with us, other clinicians are freed up to prioritise patients with more life threatening, urgent medical conditions.”

Patients receiving the service are benefitting from a much more timely assessment and treatment with a much quicker rehabilitation and return to work or other daily activities. Michael McKiverigan who arrived at the Emergency Department in wheelchair following a fall in October says: “Compared to a previous experience I had three years ago with a fracture, I have found treatment this time around much easier. I saw the Physiotherapist straight away who diagnosed that I had significant muscle injuries to both legs, discussed my care with the Consultant, organised a follow up scan and rehabilitation programme and I was out of the hospital in just over an hour. It has all been very easy and it was a great benefit that one professional led the whole process rather than having to see a number of doctors and nurses also.”

The First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioners have been funded by the Health and Social Care Board to embed the role of Physiotherapy in Emergency Departments and help improve care for those patients with minor injuries.