Monthly Archives: February 2015

New NHS regional pilot for patients with back pain

Patients suffering from low back and radicular pain in the South Tees and Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas will soon benefit from a new pilot project designed to help them manage their own symptoms and, when needed, provide support when those symptoms are more severe. The pilot, which is due to start this summer, will ensure local patients receive a streamlined service, through improved delivery of local health services for back and radicular pain (commonly known as sciatica).

The project has been funded by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and Cumbria (AHSN NENC), one of a national network of organisations dedicated to improving healthcare and driving wealth creation through innovation.

Professor Charles Greenough, National Clinical Director for Spinal Disorders and Consultant Spinal Surgeon at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is an excellent programme which is about making sure that patients receive an evidence-based, comprehensive care pathway for integrated care. It will form the blueprint for the help and advice, and treatment, patients receive from their local GP surgery to hospital specialist services, in line with national best practice. We are very excited to work with our CCG commissioning colleagues and academic partners to be the first to show how these improvements make a difference to local patients.”

The health care ideas, interventions and approaches based on best practice will be tested and used as part of the wider Scaling Up Improvement Programme recently announced by the Health Foundation. Other areas across Cumbria and the North East are due to implement their improved back pain pathway over the next two and a half years.

Dr Andrea Jones of Darlington CCG and GP clinical commissioning lead for the team of commissioners, providers and academic partners sponsoring this Programme said “These timely interventions for patients will lead to a significant improvement in people’s overall quality of life. Severe or chronic back and leg pain is common and this work will improve care for many people across the North East in the longer term, where GPs report a high incidence in the local population suffering these type of problems.”

Experts in measuring healthcare quality and patient outcomes from the North East Quality Observatory System (NEQOS) are supporting the evaluation of this project and will be working with the Centre for Health and Social Evaluation (CHASE) at Teesside University on supporting the evaluation of the wider Scaling Up Improvement Programme.

National Heart Month

With St Valentines day around the corner our thoughts may turn to love and affairs of the heart.

February is National Heart month. As a GP I do see many patients through the ups and downs of relationships but I see more patients with ‘broken hearts’ that maybe we could have done more to prevent.

The excitement and anticipation of getting a ‘valentine’ may get your pulse racing and give you a warm feeling in your heart, but keeping active is really important to keep your heart healthy.

Physical activity helps control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health – helping you to look and feel great which might just raise the chance of getting that Valentine. You don’t have to hit the lycra: walking rather than taking the car or taking the stairs not the lift will all help. Chocolates and romantic meals out are also associated with Valentine’s Day which may not be so good for the waistline but is fine as an allowable occasional treat. Everything in moderation as my mum has always said. I know it can be confusing sometimes with changing evidence about what’s good for you and what’s not but there is no doubt that eating lower fat food with your ‘5 a day’ fruit and vegetables must be a good place to start.

Back to Valentines and after that romantic date maybe there will be a kiss at the end of the night – which is another reason to keep your breath fresh for a healthy heart and don’t smoke. If your valentine is sniffling and sneezing it is possible that you might be not too keen on any close contact.

Be it a cold or ‘man flu’ pop into your community pharmacy where your pharmacist can give you advice about how to ease your symptoms without the need to wait for a GP appointment. Many parts of the NHS are busiest during the winter months. Try to do what you can to look after yourself and your family keeping the specialist hospital services for those who need them most. Our elderly friends and neighbours could be at greatest risk of becoming most poorly, so do have a heart and look out for them, especially during this cold snap.


NHS Continuing Healthcare – Draft Redress Guidance

NHS England have shared the draft of the refreshed NHS Continuing Healthcare – Redress Guidance. The Guidance will be on NHS England’s website for comment/feedback for six weeks, until Thursday 19 March 2015. It is hoped then to publish the final version, subject to comments, shortly after that.

Award to scale up health care for people with back pain

Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), leading a regional initiative with a team of clinical commissioners, providers and health professionals from the north east of England, has been selected by the Health Foundation, an independent health care charity, to be part of its new national £3.5 million improvement programme, Scaling Up Improvement.

The Scaling Up Improvement programme is sponsoring seven health care projects in the UK with the aim to improve health care delivery and/or the way people manage their own care through the delivery of successful health care improvement interventions at scale.

The regional team aims to improve the management of patients who have lower back pain or radicular pain over the next 2 1/2 years. It will begin with a year-long pilot scheme starting in the summer in the South Tees CCG and Hambleton, Richmond and Whitby CCG areas, with Darlington CCG and other North East CCGs planning to follow closely behind. The project will involve implementing an evidence-based, comprehensive care pathway that integrates care from the GP surgery through to the specialists in hospital.

Over the course of the programme CCGs across the north east will take health care ideas, interventions and approaches that have been tested and shown to improve care at a small scale and deliver them at a larger scale.

Dr Andrea Jones, Chair of Darlington CCG and lead GP commissioner for the Regional Back Pain Project said, “Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life. The North East has a high incidence of people suffering from low back pain and in particular severe back pain. Thankfully, for the majority of people these acute episodes are relatively short-lived. “By giving people the information and ability to manage their own symptoms and put

in place lifestyle changes to prevent frequency of recurrence, we can then prioritise those people and identify who may go on to have more disabling problems, and with the correct interventions at the right time can significantly prevent their problems from becoming chronic and the consequent effect it has upon their overall wellbeing.”

Many local people living in or near South Tees and Darlington, who suffer from back pain, will benefit from the improved access to back pain advice and treatment as part of the pilot scheme. They will have a named person in charge of their treatment and a clear plan of care appropriate to their needs. We are delighted to be working with colleagues across the region to take the learning from this pilot and implementing this Regional Back Pain Pathway. The programme will run for two and a half years receiving up to £500,000 of funding to support this implementation and evaluation work.

Dr Jane Jones, Assistant Director from the Health Foundation said, “We are very excited to be working with these seven outstanding project teams, who have been selected for the Scaling Up Improvement programme for their ambition and plans to implement improvement in large scale and complex change projects.

“Together we will aim to have real impact and make lasting improvements to the way health care is delivered, by testing out proven ideas at scale with the intention of these being widely adopted across the UK health service.”

Darlington CCG will be working closely with other CCGs in the north east of England, in North Cumbria and in Richmondshire, Hambleton and Whitby areas, to learn from the pilots and launching their programmes locally over the next two and a half years.