Patients at a specialist inflammatory spinal clinic at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) are now receiving better care than ever thanks to the streamlining of the Trust’s treatment of a chronic disease.
UHMBT’s specialised Axial Spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) Clinic deals with the condition. AxSpAs are long-term inflammatory arthritic condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed and can fuse. Treatment of the condition has previously seen patients visit multiple professionals, at multiple appointments within the hospital network – but thanks to additional training for the Physiotherapy Team in Rheumatology, patients can now benefit from a one-stop-shop approach to the treatment inclusive of disease monitoring, drug management and exercise advice.
Clare Longton, Advanced Physiotherapist at UHMBT, who has led the development of the AxSpA Clinics at Royal Lancaster Hospital, said: “The reasons we introduced these AxSpA Clinics was because it took a long time for patients to get to see a consultant about their condition and then they would also need to come and see a physiotherapist as well.
“It involved lots of multiple appointments with different professionals and the majority of these patients are of working age, so they continuously had to take time out of work.
“Following discussions with the consultant rheumatologists at UHMBT, it was decided that by upskilling the physiotherapists we could then provide a one-stop shop.”
Clare continued: “We did an audit of patients’ experience and satisfaction over the first 12 months. Their feedback was really positive in that they actually felt that their care was being looked at more holistically. They also felt more able to ask questions to that one individual that they always saw, they didn’t see a registrar or a junior doctor or a consultant, or a nurse. That streamlining to them helped them feel a bit more confident in perhaps being able to ask some of the more obscure or more sensitive questions.
Ian Steel, a patient with AS said; “The AS clinic has created more expedient timescales between reporting symptoms and being able to be seen in clinic and having my prescribed medication reviewed accordingly. The biggest advantage is having a trusted clinician with whom one can build a long term relationship, which is better than seeing a different person each time I go to the hospital. I have better continuity of care which is important for monitoring and being able to react to any symptom changes, and the same person who can advise on any necessary changes to my lifestyle or exercise programmes too.”
AxSpA Clinics are currently benefitting patients across Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Westmorland General Hospital, with work underway to launch the clinics at Furness General Hospital also.