New Northumberland MSK and pain service announced

NHS Northumberland CCG has announced changes to musculoskeletal services in the county – please see their statement below. Healthwatch Northumberland would like to hear from people across all parts of Northumberland who use these services currently, about the service they are receiving and how they are affected after 1 July when the new service begins. To get in touch please visit our Contact Us page.


NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is pleased to announce, following a comprehensive procurement process, that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) has been awarded the contract to provide a new musculoskeletal and pain service in partnership with Connect Health.

The term musculoskeletal condition (MSK) includes well over 200 disorders affecting joints, bones, muscles and soft tissues. Some of the most common conditions that would be seen in the new MSK and pain service include back pain, sprains and strains, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.  The new service is for patients in Northumberland aged 16 and over with MSK or pain issues where all other conservative treatments have been considered.

Commenting on the new contract, Dr John Warrington, Director for Planned Care for the CCG said: “The successful bid was of a high standard with some exciting developments that will enhance the care of Northumberland patients.”

As part of the procurement process, the CCG carried out a period of engagement to provide patients and GPs with an opportunity to comment on how the new service should be designed.

John continued: “We know from our engagement with patients that they want quicker access to appointments and referrals, and we recognise the positive impact this has on patients’ diagnosis and treatment. The new service will ensure all patients across the county have equal access to high quality NHS services. The bid forms a partnership between Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation and Connect Health. Connect Health has successfully been awarded many NHS contracts throughout the country and will bring their tried and tested systems to Northumberland. We are keen to work with both organisations, who also have the potential to offer innovative developments to further improve care for Northumberland patients.”

MSK problems are the most common reason for repeat appointments with a GP, comprising up to 30% of primary care consultations nationally. In recent years, as the number of elderly people in the community has increased, the number of people with MSK conditions has also risen. The new service, which will be called Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service (JMAPS), will improve access for patients and provide them with the opportunity to choose care based on their desired outcomes and personal preferences.

Nicky Moon, Deputy Director for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the preferred bidder and together with Connect Health, we are looking forward to delivering the best possible service for the people of Northumberland. We are currently working with staff on the implementation plan. Our experience of providing MSK services over previous years gives us a fantastic foundation on which to build and we know we have a dedicated and highly skilled workforce ready to deliver this new service.”

Professor Andrew Walton, Executive Chair for Connect Health said: “I am delighted that Connect Health will be able to support the population of Northumberland in the delivery of a robust and innovative Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service. Here at Connect Health, we are confident that we will be partnering with a really enthusiastic team at Northumbria Healthcare who advocate the same patient-centred values that we do. We will demonstrate our commitment to improving the lives of people living with musculoskeletal problems and persistent pain and I’m truly excited about how we can be creative with how we deliver this.”

The CCG will now work with the Trust and Connect Health to ensure the service is up and running by July 2019 and those patients using existing services experience a seamless transition.

2 replies
  1. James Whittaker
    James Whittaker says:

    I don’t understand how they can improve appointments and referrals when the existing service was already excellent. I never had a problem getting an appointment. Indeed because I am my wife’s carer I sometimes needed an urgent appointment. Once my GP had made the referral online I could ring Alnwick the following morning and could be fitted in the following week, no problem! Now, instead of an 8 mile round trip to Wooler, we have the “pleasure” of a 46 mile round trip to Alnwick. This causes my wife to suffer more pain from the travelling, so it’s a retrograde step as far as we are concerned. My wife was due a follow up appointment last Monday, 1st July, but we’ve heard nothing from them. This has been done as underhand as can be, we the patients have had no say in this and the whole process stinks! And don’t even get me started on the global warming aspect of this! Instead of one physiotherapist travelling from Alnwick to Wooler we now have the reality of 150 people (the caseload of one physiotherapist) travelling from Wooler to Alnwick. But the government will gloss over that by increasing taxes and telling us to buy electric cars to save the planet. This also smacks of back door privatisation and I’m thoroughly disgusted with how it’s been brought about.

  2. Claire Jackson
    Claire Jackson says:

    Thanks for your comments James. We are keen to hear from people using the service about how the changes are affecting them and we will record what you’ve told us so we can report back to the providers and the commissioners of the service. If you’d like to speak to us at any point please call: 03332 408468.

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