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Clinical commissioners unveil innovative new plans to improve care for thousands of local people who suffer from musculoskeletal conditions

12 August 2013

Bedfordshire clinical commissioners today unveiled their innovative plans to improve care for local people who suffer from chronic and debilitating musculoskeletal conditions, investing £120million over the next five years in an integrated system of care and support that will be tailored around patients' needs. 

Over 45,000 Bedfordshire patients each year use NHS-funded services for musculoskeletal problems. That means one in 10 people living in Bedfordshire has a musculoskeletal condition such as back or joint pain, arthritis, tennis elbow or carpel tunnel syndrome, and that most of us know someone who is receiving care for one of these sometimes debilitating conditions. As people live longer, more of us will potentially need advice and care for these issues.

Feedback from local patients and carers has repeatedly stressed how important local musculoskeletal services are and has pointed out how existing services needed to modernise and change. Patients want to see a more integrated approach, with services that are locally accessible and tailored around their needs, their lives and their own personal goals.

As a result, Bedfordshire CCG has spent the last six months undertaking an international search and a comprehensive tender process, to bring together national musculoskeletal experts, leading patient charities, and local service providers to transform the services for musculoskeletal conditions in Bedfordshire.

This partnership of expert patients and clinicians has taken the best clinical practice available, the latest in medical thinking and used it to develop a five year £120 million investment plan, which will both improve standards of care and patient experience and use local NHS resources in a more efficient way. 

In the future, patients will find more of their care can be provided in or near their own GP surgery, and will be able to have a bigger say in their own care and treatment, as they will be given more information with which to make the right decisions for them about their own individual care plans. There will be greater focus on measuring and improving the clinical quality of care provided and on its ability to meet patients' expectations of their care.

The partnership of organisations leading this new system of care include the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Arthritis Care, the Pennines MSK Partnership, Horizon Health Choices, the Luton and Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust, and Circle.

The new partnership will take responsibility for its first patients in January 2014, with improvements rolled out over the early part of the five year period. Progress will be monitored regularly using patient, carer and family feedback and results will be published on the CCG website.

Dr Andy Edwards, a GP in Biggleswade who has led the development of the plans for the CCG, said: "I am delighted with the announcement today. It brings together six months hard work to bring the best of what the NHS can offer to local patients with musculoskeletal conditions, and to their families and carers."

"As a local GP, I want my patients to have access to high quality, modern, integrated services as close to home as possible. This plan offers our population now and in the future this opportunity and by working together with patients, national and local experts we can see real improvements very quickly. It's an exciting time for everyone working to provide better musculoskeletal services in Bedfordshire."

Bob Smith, a patient representative who has been actively involved with the MSK project said: “This service will make a huge difference to patients because it will offer them a more integrated, seamless service, with most of their care being available in the community. This ensures patients get the very best care, closer to home and the local health service can make better use of resources." 

Notes to editors

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 441,000 people who live in Bedfordshire. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services. In 2013/14, the CCG’s budget is £430 million.  

The CCG is run by local GPs. All 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members of the CCG which is divided into five areas, which we call localities. These are: Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Leighton Buzzard, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact the Communications and Engagement team on 01234 897208.


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