Our staff and volunteers were invited by Connect Health to attend MSK clinics at Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre on two days in January and February and at Flagg Court Health Centre for an afternoon in January.

Patients were asked if they would be willing to complete a short, written questionnaire to provide direct feedback on their own experience of the care they have received, and more than 30 patients agreed.

Last month we reported our findings from users of the service, which were generally very positive.

Patients we spoke to found it a very good service, with insightful, informative, caring, empathetic and easy to understand clinicians who listen to their patients in relaxed, informative and friendly appointments.

There were a few issues and suggestions for improvements raised relating to mobility/access and the registration procedure on arrival at Cleadon Park PCC.

In our report to the service commissioners Healthwatch made a number of recommendations:

  • Ensure all frontline staff of referral services into MSK are aware that patients can self- refer and share details of how to do this.
  • Better signage on entry to Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre to direct patients to where to attend for the MSK Service. This will prevent patients getting lost, and to notify that they must register at the main reception before going upstairs.
  • Notify patients of free parking arrangements.
  • Consider making additional car parking arrangements for Blue Badge holders (Cleadon Park Health Centre).

The full report can be read here.

Connect Health has written to Healthwatch in response to our report, acknowledging that ‘overall, the service users who responded were happy with the service and quality of care they received’.

But they say they are taking action in the areas patients wanted to see improvements: “This report has highlighted some areas that we can improve on and actions that we can take including liaising with Cleadon Park estates team to ensure clear signage and correct amount of blue badge parking spaces, helping patients to find their way to appointments at Cleadon Park via clear communication from staff when booking appointments.

“A focus of future engagement events will also be to improve public knowledge of the ability to self-refer to our service when needed. Our findings will be fed back to our clinical team during our fortnightly team meetings to ensure Healthwatch’s findings can be noted and learnt from.

“We would like to thank the friendly and professional staff that work for Healthwatch that helped to interview our service users and put together the excellent quality report that they produced.

“Healthwatch has provided tangible advice and feedback which we have been able to use to guide our quality improvement projects and make adjustments to help improve our service and the experience our service users receive.”

South Tyneside Community Musculoskeletal Service brings together specialist musculoskeletal clinicians to assess, diagnose and manage conditions at six venues across the borough: Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre; Flagg Court Primary Care Centre; Harton Sports Centre; Haven Point Leisure Centre; Hebburn Central and The Glen Primary Care Centre.

The team includes specialist clinicians covering all musculoskeletal areas, who can provide a comprehensive assessment and a range of treatments and management plans in a community setting. They treat MSK conditions involving bones, joints and soft tissues.

For more information visit: https://www.connecthealth.co.uk/services/south-tyneside/