New virtual fracture clinic at Basildon Hospital means patients avoid unnecessary appointments to hospital and speeds up care.
THE orthopaedic surgical department at Basildon Hospital has a new virtual fracture clinic. The first analysis of data since the clinic opened highlights that the waiting time for consultants to see patients, who need to come in for an outpatient appointment, has now been reduced from ten to three days as a result of having the virtual clinic. The new service has also reduced the need for extra fracture clinics saving the department £150,000.
The opening of the virtual clinic last September means that there is no longer a need for some patients to attend outpatient clinics. Following an assessment of notes and X-rays, patients can be phoned back with a treatment plan and supported to manage their condition at home.
By assessing patients this way, the orthopaedic surgical department can ensure they get the best treatment as quickly as possible. It also means patients don’t have to travel unnecessarily to the hospital right away and time is freed up for the team to see those patients that do need to attend for an appointment much quicker.
Mr Ravi Ray, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Basildon started this project after seeing how Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge run their clinics. He worked on the virtual clinic idea for two years before it opened and the clinic now runs five days a week.
The aim of the virtual clinic is to get patients with the most common minor injuries treated quickly and avoid an outpatient appointment, if possible. A consultant will assess the patient’s X-ray and medical history notes. If the consultant is happy that this patient can recover by managing their condition at home with guidance, they can be discharged once the virtual clinic has taken place.
A nurse then relays the consultant’s decisions to the patient so they still get that crucial patient consultation and contact. Nurses are authorised to bring the patient back in if they’re worried so there is no delay.
The consultant led clinics assess 40 patients in one morning and at least half of those patients will have to come in for an appointment to see an expert. Before the virtual clinic all forty of those patients would have had to come in.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Basildon Hospital, Mr Ravi Ray said,
“I’m excited about this project – is it my baby! It has taken some time and effort to develop but it has been worth it and we can already see huge benefits. The patients get the right treatment earlier so this clinic is far more productive.
“Now we know the common injuries that don’t need medical support but do need a plaster cast, splint or some immobilisation we can triage patients into the right clinics.
“We have dropped the need for extra fracture clinics and in that we’ve saved £150,000 in this department. The team ethos made this project a winner – couldn’t have done this without them.”