Physiotherapy Team proud winners of the ‘Outstanding Service’ prize at the annual staff awards ceremony

Provide’s Physiotherapy Service were acknowledged for all their commitment, hard work and achievement over the past year by winning the Outstanding Service Award at the 2019 staff award ceremony.  This year it was held on 21 March 2019 at Greenwoods Hotel and Spa in Stock and 170 people attended.

The award was deserved recognition for the success of the service over the previous 12 months and the excellent patient care given for both children and adults with Musculoskeletal disorders. This has been robustly proven with the introduction and auditing of a new and improved clinical outcome measure that demonstrated that 93% of all service users improved following a course of treatment last year.

As well as excellent clinical effectiveness, the Physiotherapy Service has consistently demonstrated extremely high patient experience with at least 98% of service users would recommend the service to others.

Innovation has also been embraced within the service throughout the last 12 months through a number of work streams including the development of the service page on the Provide Website to help provide high quality online resources for patients, other health professionals and the general public. 

In addition, a gold-standard back programme created by the University of Oxford to help people with persistent back problems has been set up and rolled out across the region with excellent outcomes and feedback from those who have accessed the class so far.

Also, the Physiotherapy Service has started some collaborative work with the University of Essex as part of a three year Artificial Intelligence (AI) project alongside Provide to develop digital healthcare systems at both an administrative and clinical level to improve the efficiency, quality and experience navigating to the most appropriate support and services needed for the individual as quickly as possible.

These are exciting times for Provide’s award-winning Physiotherapy Service for both staff and patients and the service will continue to strive to improve the care given and find better ways of working for the years to come.


Undergraduate Student Musculoskeletal Placements

Provide Physiotherapy Service has now restarted offering undergraduate student Musculoskeletal placements following a lengthy break due to system and governance challenges which have now been overcome.

The service has recently supervised three different physiotherapy student placements across the three main sites of Maldon, Chelmsford and Braintree and will continue to provide a learning platform for students in the near future.

The St Peter’s physiotherapy team in Maldon recently welcomed Curtley Straughn to the department for a five week placement as part of his masters physiotherapy programme with the University of Essex.

With supervision from the outpatient physiotherapy staff in Maldon, Curtley has been assessing and treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions whilst developing his knowledge and skills along the way.

“The Provide physiotherapy team have supported my learning journey one hundred per cent from day one. The educators have been fantastic and offer brilliant opportunities for student physiotherapists to learn and apply the skills learnt within university.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to learn from a first class and friendly team.” said Curtley.

The Physiotherapy Service takes great pleasure in supporting undergraduate students in gaining invaluable early experience working in clinical settings and will be continuing to provide Musculoskeletal placements in the future to help with the next generation of physiotherapists entering the profession.


London Marathon Successes

Two courageous and fit members of Provide staff completed the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon in April and one selfless employee volunteered to help out on the day.

The race took place on a very hot day and was in fact the hottest London Marathon on record. This obviously made the challenge far greater but our brave members of staff Louisa Kirby (Team Lead Physiotherapist at Springfield Green Clinic) and Laura Hembling (Specialist Podiatrist) successfully completed the race and both raised significant amounts of money for their respective charities.  The Provide Governors agreed to match fund their fundraising efforts.

Hannah Cotterrill (Physiotherapist at Springfield Green Clinic) volunteered to help runners with musculoskeletal problems such as cramp or sprains by using ice, massage and stretches. Due to the heat wave, she also directed people to the doctors if they needed medical input as well. Hannah said: “Being able to help people reach their goal near the end of the race was a great experience and overall the atmosphere was amazing.”

Louisa Kirby raised money for Coram which is a long-established children’s charity and works with children from abusive homes to rebuild their lives in the safety of a new, loving adoptive family. Together with Provide’s match funding, Louisa was the top fundraiser for Coram at this year’s marathon.

Louisa completed the marathon in 4 hours 45 minutes. Click here to view her results and see some photos.

Laura Hembling raised money for the Alzheimer’s Society.  The charity is close to Laura’s heart as she has sadly lost family members to the disease.  As a podiatrist she also comes into contact with patients on a daily basis that are suffering from the varying types of dementia and the team always try their best to make the experience as positive as possible for these patients and their families. The team see the struggles that they go through and often the lack of information and/or support that they have.

Laura completed the marathon in 4 hours 39 minutes and felt so unwell immediately afterwards that there are unfortunately no photographs.  Laura is now fit and well and very pleased with her fundraising total.

Many congratulations to Louisa and Laura. We are all proud of your commitment and fundraising successes.


Artificial Intelligence to help physiotherapy patients

Provide’s Physiotherapy Service is working with the organisation’s Technology Team to explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help deliver better outcomes for its service users.

A recent report by think tank Reform found that AI can analyse data collected on wearable technology, such as fitness trackers, and help clinicians support changes in patients’ behaviour.

Exercise is essential for physiotherapy treatment to be successful and the ability to track and monitor a patient’s physical activity and frequency of exercise would be highly beneficial for the service.

Alex Kraszewski, a team lead physiotherapist for Provide’s Physiotherapy Service, said:

“A major focus on the delivery of our Physiotherapy service with Provide relates to educating our patients on how to self-manage their pain or condition.”

“Often, patients are unaware of how much or little physical activity they are doing, and using wearable technology will help us monitor, increase or decrease this activity, and ultimately improve treatment outcomes.”

Digital technology can help the NHS become more efficient and deliver better outcomes for patients and Provide will be looking at ways AI could help to address this in the future by automating tasks, triaging patients to the most appropriate services and allowing people to self-care.

Service users will give consent and be invited to use technological devices that can help them to get the best outcomes.

Chris Wright, Head of IT and Data at Provide, said:

“The Technology Team at Provide are very excited about the benefits that AI can bring to our services and service users.”

“We are working with a range of industry-leading partners to analyse where AI will bring the most benefit and to develop easy to use products and solutions that will make a real difference to care”.

Over the next few months, the Physiotherapy Service will be collaborating with a digital strategy group to look at new models for digital healthcare.

The service is committed to embracing innovation and technology to improve patient care and experience.


Physiotherapists now certified to support people with Musculoskeletal conditions return to work

The government has recently announced plans to get one million more disabled people in work over the next ten years.

The new plan includes extending ‘fit note’ certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses.

These new measures will permit Provide’s Physiotherapy Service to sign ‘fit notes’ to support people on long-term sick leave to return to work.

More than 20 per cent of absences from work are due to Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions such as back pain and arthritis.

People with these disorders often find it difficult to return back to work due to a lack of support from employers as well as delays in accessing the appropriate healthcare services.

Luke Tandy, an Extended Scope Physiotherapist for Provide’s Physiotherapy Service, said:

“The proposal to allow physiotherapists to issue fit notes is excellent news for patients with Musculoskeletal problems, which is one of the most common reasons for sickness absence in the UK.”

“Our service plays an important part of people’s rehabilitation for physical health problems and we recognise the pivotal role of facilitating someone’s ability to return to work if they are off sick due to their Musculoskeletal condition.”

“The use of fit notes by the Physiotherapy Service in the near future will certainly help to support people not only returning to work but also remaining at work which is in the interest of their long term health and wellbeing.”

The government hopes the changes to the fit note system will improve the identification of health conditions and treatments to help workers get back to work quickly.

Provide’s Physiotherapy Service can help people with Musculoskeletal conditions successfully get back to work as quickly as possible by providing detailed expert advice on how workplaces can support employees returning after a period of absence. 

The future introduction of more first-contact physiotherapy practitioners working in GP surgeries over the coming years, both nationally and in mid Essex, will allow even wider use of fit notes by the profession resulting in fewer unnecessary appointments for patients and faster access to the care they need.

The government’s policy paper, ‘Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability’, outlines a 10 year plan to improve employment prospects for people with long term health conditions including a specific focus on Musculoskeletal conditions.

More information can be found on the Gov website.


Success for new back pain screening method

Provide’s Physiotherapy Service has been trialling a new screening method with mid-Essex patients who have been referred into the service with back pain and sciatica.

The ‘STarT Back’ approach, produced by Keele University, uses a simple tool which matches patients to the most suitable treatment packages for them. New patients accessing the service complete a short questionnaire before their first appointment and the initial screening informs the physiotherapist what level of care is required. The results help determine which one of three risk-defined groups the patient is allocated to: low, medium, or high and one of three treatment pathways, developed with clinical experts, is then matched to these risk groups.

Luke Tandy, an Extended Scope Physiotherapist for Provide’s Physiotherapy Service, said:

“Offering care for people with back pain that matches their risk of developing persistent pain and disability gives better long-term outcomes and ensures that people receive the correct advice and support as early as possible.”
“The tool is a simple nine-item questionnaire that only takes a minute to complete which quickly and accurately determines the level of care the person needs to get back to their normal life.”

A review of the service in 2016 identified that patients with back problems were receiving a number of different treatment approaches over a varied number of appointments and future care needed to become more consistent, stratified and effective over the whole service. Widely used both in the UK and internationally, the ‘STarT Back’ approach to care has been shown to decrease disability from back pain, reduce time off work and make better use of health resources. The new method of treatment has already shown that people with low back pain need fewer appointments before they are discharged from the service and 90 per cent of patients are significantly better following their matched treatment. This month, mid-Essex patients with more persistent back pain can attend a six-week ‘back to activity programme at Braintree Community Hospital, aimed at helping people find better ways to manage persistent pain.

More information about this comprehensive evidence-based programme will be available on the Provide website very soon.

Provide is a Community Interest Company (social enterprise) and delivers services across Essex and in Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough), Suffolk and Norfolk as well as two London boroughs: Waltham Forest and Redbridge.

The Physiotherapy Service is based at locations in Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon and Halstead.

For more information on STarT Back, visit the Keele website.


New measurement tool, better treatment outcomes

A new outcome measure to help evaluate the effectiveness of treatment to patients with musculoskeletal conditions has been identified by Provide’s Physiotherapy Service.

For the last 12 months the service has used the Musculoskeletal Health Questionnaire (MSK-HQ) to accurately measure whether treatments to patients have been successful.

The measurement tool consists of 14 items capturing outcomes such as pain, function, sleep, physical activity and psychological impact. It is used by the service at the beginning and end of care.

A recent review of patient outcome data showed that since last April more than 90 per cent of patients improved with physiotherapy management from the service, significantly higher than the threshold for demonstrating a clinically meaningful difference.

This comes after it was identified that the service’s previous outcome measure was not suitable to assess whether treatment had improved a patient’s pain, function or general wellbeing.

Scott Baker, Clinical Manager at the Physiotherapy Service, said: “The use of a generic musculoskeletal outcome measure for all patients with a musculoskeletal condition was long overdue and the use of the MSK-HQ within the service will provide invaluable data on how effective our treatment is and where we can improve.

“The MSK-HQ should become the cornerstone for measuring treatment effectiveness when managing people with Musculoskeletal conditions, not just within our physiotherapy service but all healthcare services delivering care for this patient group.”

Scott added: “The high level of improvement for patients receiving treatment in the service shows an outstanding effort by the team, especially given the current constraints and we are delighted that people are benefiting from the care we are giving.”

The MSK-HQ was published by Keele University with the support of Arthritis Research UK in 2014 and validated in the British Medical Journal for clinical use in 2016.

Ongoing work using the MSK-HQ to evaluate the effectiveness of treating patients with different Musculoskeletal problems will continue over the coming months as part of further service development projects.

Read more about the Musculoskeletal outcome on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) website.

Skip to content