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BJGP Open. 2017 Dec 13;1(4):bjgpopen17X101217. doi: 10.3399/bjgpopen17X101217. eCollection 2018 Jan.

An evaluation of the clinical skills and experience within an orthopaedic Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service.

Author information

1
Medical Student, Department of General Practice and Primary Care and Centre for Public Health Research, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
2
NIHR Clinical PhD Fellow in GP and Sport and Exercise Medicine, Department of General Practice and Primary Care and Centre for Public Health Research, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Abstract

Background:

General practice in the UK is 'in crisis'. With 20% of GP workload relating to musculoskeletal (MSK) problems, an orthopaedic Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (ICATS) could help support assessment of these patients in primary care, alleviating pressure on GPs. However, practitioners in ICATS must be trained appropriately to ensure its effectiveness.

Aim:

This evaluation aimed to identify the training levels of doctors in one Northern Ireland orthopaedic ICATS system, what their future training needs are, and suggestions for how this service could be improved to better support general practice.

Design & setting:

A questionnaire study in an orthopaedic ICATS, Northern Ireland.

Method:

All seven doctors working within the Southern Trust orthopaedic ICATS were asked to complete a questionnaire detailing their training and experience in MSK medicine. Their views on how the service could be improved were elicited.

Results:

Six of seven questionnaires were returned. All responders were Members of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP), while five of six held a Diploma in Sports and Exercise Medicine (Dip SEM). Half of responders suggested that MSK ultrasound could be beneficial within ICATS. However, it was viewed that extensive training would be required before paediatric MSK patients could be included.

Conclusion:

High levels of training and experience were reported by responders, suggesting ICATS provides a high-level MSK service. Furthermore, it was noted that inclusion of MSK ultrasound and paediatric patients into this service could be beneficial but not without undertaking further training. With appropriate funding and support the ICATS service has the potential to expand the clinical services it offers to general practice, helping to reduce work pressures in primary care at this time of crisis for UK general practice.

KEYWORDS:

general practice; integrated care; integrated clinical assessment service; musculoskeletal; orthopaedics; primary care

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

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