Hundreds of patients with joint, bone and muscle problems are already benefiting from quicker and more direct access to treatment and support after the successful launch of Northamptonshire’s brand new MSK Triage Hub.

As reported in the January edition of Partnership Update, the MSK Triage Hub provides a single point of access for all the county’s referrals for patients with musculoskeletal complaints – with an ambition to deliver joined-up and consistent access to services.

After going live at the end of January, the new hub received more than 100 referrals in its first week. At the time of publication, referrals were climbing towards 200 a week and are expected to reach a weekly volume of around 500 by the end of March.

The hub’s administrative team is fully staffed and recruitment is under way to bring in extended scope physiotherapists to undertake clinical triage. From April 2020 they will review all orthopaedic and MSK therapy referrals to ensure patients are referred promptly to the appropriate services and that all therapy options are explored. This process will include diagnostics, where appropriate, and completion of all the necessary approval processes.

Early feedback from GP practices which have accessed the hub indicates the system is easy to use and has been well received. Suggestions for potential improvements – such as the possible inclusion of referrals for MSK therapy services through the electronic referral system – are being factored into future planning, and views of GP users will continue to be sought through locality groups, Primary Care Network leads and other regular meetings.

Key highlights and milestones for the MSK Triage Hub include:

• Hub staff competency pack developed and staff training delivered prior to launch, with support from acute hospital colleagues
• Care pathways under review and will support development of operational procedures ahead of clinical triage phase in April 2020
• System-wide steering group established with representation from primary care, IT, hospitals and commissioners. Will meet bi-monthly to support hub development, with a patient representative identified to participate and activity to be shared through NHFT Adult Patient Experience group.
• Detailed work to be driven through monthly working group meetings with NHCP’s MSK workstream providing an overall steer for the project.

Project lead Tracey Dempster said: “We’re delighted to have successfully launched Northamptonshire’s new MSK Triage Hub and would like to thank everyone who’s been involved in getting this important piece of transformation off the ground – as well as the many stakeholders who have supported us in doing this work.”

This work responds to the ‘Personalised Care’ category of our community’s Big Ideas