Health chiefs promise to help people with bad backs

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Patients with conditions including back ache and tennis elbow are being offered faster more appropriate treatment closer to home.

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) has vowed to cut out situations where patients with debilitating musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are “ping-ponged” repeatedly from GPs to specialists and back again.

BCCG, which has signed a five-year £120million contract with Circle Partnership to deliver MSK services to the 440,000 people of Bedfordshire, plans to offer treatment closer to home via a central hub,

The first stage of the service has already gone live, and Bedfordshire GPs are now able to refer all patients who need treatment for MSK conditions to the central hub. It directs patients to the most appropriate treatment and provider for their condition. The rest of the service will be rolled out over the coming six months.

Bedford Hospital and Luton and Dunstable Hospital (L&D) should be part of the new integrated service by the autumn. Patients can continue to request treatment at any hospital in England.

An estimated one in 10 of the population is affected by MSK conditions.

Bedfordshire GP Dr Andy Edwards said: “This service will make a huge difference to patients, offering an integrated, seamless service with more care available in the community. But it is an ambitious project and, as clinical commissioners we will be monitoring it carefully to ensure it delivers the benefits for patients that we are looking for.”

Dr Nick Boyle, NHS consultant surgeon and Circle partner said: “We are delighted that, from today, thousands of patients across Bedfordshire will be able to take advantage of this new integrated model of orthopaedic care, which will improve services, reduce waiting times and provide a one-stop-shop for all patients with musculoskeletal problems.

“This innovative approach is the first of its kind and is already being copied across the UK. Local doctors in Bedfordshire CCG should be congratulated for their pioneering work which will make a huge difference to patients across the county.”

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying the majority of healthcare for the people of Bedfordshire. It is run and led by local clinicians, including GPs, nurses and hospital doctors.