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Musculoskeletal Disorders: Health Services

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 21 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many clinical assessment and treatment services for musculoskeletal conditions there were in the NHS in (a) 2006 and (b) 2008; and if he will make a statement. (249250)

The Department does not collect centrally information on the number of clinical assessment and treatment services for musculoskeletal conditions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage faster referral from GPs to specialists of patients with serious musculoskeletal problems. (249276)

The Department has developed five orthopaedic commissioning pathways which pertain to musculoskeletal conditions hip pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, chronic pain back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. These were published as part of 43 18-week commissioning pathways that reflect national good practice. These pathways highlight the types of conditions that need to be referred for specialist assessments as well as stressing clinical urgent conditions (often referred to as red flag patients) that need emergency treatment. A further pathway is currently in development for arthritis.

The pathways are high-level service models to help support and enable commissioners and service providers to challenge existing practice, utilise service improvement tools and techniques, maximise opportunities for transformational change, provide a catalyst for local discussion and challenge in order to deliver 18-week pathways.

From the 1 January 2009, the minimum expectation of consultant-led elective services will be that no one should wait more than 18 weeks from the time they are referred to the start of their treatment, unless it is clinically appropriate to do so or they choose to wait longer.