Self-referral for musculoskeletal complaints in Sussex

Self-referral allows patients to refer to some MSK and physiotherapy services without seeing their GP first.

A single point of referral, combined with online self-referral for MSK complaints, is effective for shortening the waiting times for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and orthopaedic triage patients.

Situation

14 million people in England use GP online services. Harnessing digital technology in primary care to develop a physiotherapy self-referral service provides an opportunity to make physiotherapists the first point of contact for patients suffering back pain, whilst enabling service-users to make decisions about how they wish to receive care.

Aspiration

To open up the entry point for referral in order not only to ease access for people, but also to save GP time and enable people to see a clinician much sooner if needed.

Solution and impact

Following the Sussex MSK Partnership’s successful roll-out of physiotherapy self-referral in 2017, it has continued to expand access for patients across the service. As it stands, patients can currently self-refer for physiotherapy in Brighton and Hove, Crawley, Horsham and Mid-Sussex. Patients can also refer for hand and wrist Integrated Clinical Assessment & Treatment Service (ICATS) in Brighton and Hove and Mid-Sussex and all other MSK conditions in Crawley and Horsham. Self-referral means that people are able to self-refer at any time of day, allowing them to access the service around their busy lives.It also enables them to tell their story in their own words. As a result of this we are able to triage more accurately getting our patients to the right person first time.

Anyone who is 16 or older and is registered at a practice in Brighton and Hove, Crawley, Horsham or Mid-Sussex are now able to self-refer into the hand and wrist and physiotherapy service. Self - referral forms are available in paper format and online, both in normal format and large print. This is an important step in placing patients at the heart of their care.

One of the benefits of the Sussex MSK Partnership’s model of partnership-working is its ability to transfer learning from one part of the healthcare system to another.

Functionality

  • Patients are able to self-refer for physiotherapy and MSK services at any time of day, without having to see their GP first
  • Patients are able to describe in their own words their complaint and also what matters to them enabling patient centred care at the beginning of their journey
  • Patients fill in an outcome form EQ5D within the self-referral allowing us to collect outcome scores for all patients who choose to self-refer

Capabilities

  • Self-referral allows patients to refer to some MSK and physiotherapy services without seeing their GP first
  • A single point of referral combined with online self-referral for musculoskeletal complaints is effective at shortening the waiting times for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and orthopaedic triage patients, getting the patient to the right place first time

Scope

  • To enable self-referral
  • To promote patient centred care

Find out more

Read a detailed case study about the self-referral process at Sussex Partnership here

Listen to this podcast about self-referral to physiotherapy services in Sussex

Key contact

Sally York – physiotherapy and FCP lead, Sussex MSK Partnership

sally.york@nhs.net