South Devon self-referrals cut physiotherapy wait

The waiting times for physiotherapy treatment in South Devon have been reduced to as little as three days following a new self-referral scheme.

The system introduced by Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust means patients do not have to go through their GP.

Patients in Torbay, Dartmouth, Ashburton and Teignmouth were previously waiting up to 10 weeks.

The trust said 90% of appointments were now offered within three days.

The scheme started as a pilot project in Torquay in 2006 and was rolled out across a wider area in 2008.

The figures were based on the year from November 2011 to November 2012.

The self-referral rate has been between 17 and 24 per cent.

Patient phone calls

Patients can refer themselves by phoning the individual hospitals taking part and asking for an appointment.

The trust said there had been a 60 per cent reduction in missed appointments and a third of patients were only seen once.

It said this was because "fast physiotherapy intervention" could prevent the patient's condition becoming worse.

Vicki Sheen, head of physiotherapy at the trust, said: "For someone experiencing musculo-skeletal problems they need to know straight away what's wrong and what can be done about it.

"Fast access to physiotherapy can prevent new injuries from becoming chronic, reduce anxiety and help to get people back to their normal activities as soon as possible."

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