New clinic reduces orthopaedic outpatient waiting list by over a year

Neasa de Burca and Sharon O’Connor, clinical specialist physiotherapists, at the Musculoskeletal Clinic at Galway University Hospitals.

Neasa de Burca and Sharon O’Connor, clinical specialist physiotherapists, at the Musculoskeletal Clinic at Galway University Hospitals.

An outpatient waiting list for orthopaedic procedures at Galway University Hospitals has been reduced by 55 weeks since a new musculoskeletal clinic was set up at Merlin Park Hospital.

The facility, which opened in July, aims to help with the management of orthopaedic waiting lists as part of a national initiative to improve the waiting time for this speciality.

The clinic, which is open five days a week, is run by two clinical specialist physiotherapists who deal with 50 new patients weekly.

Patients attending the clinic are assessed by the physiotherapists, given a management plan and start treatment or if necessary, are referred to other services such as occupational therapy, podiatry or pain management. If the patients require orthopaedic services the relevant tests are carried out and they are referred to the most appropriate consultant speciality within orthopaedics.

The new service together with other initiatives aimed at reducing the outpatient waiting list, has already proved successful. So far, 239 patients have been seen.

Tony Canavan, the chief operating officer of the Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group, says it has reduced its inpatient waiting list from 9,901 in January to 1,513 as of 16 August.

“These are patients who would have breached the national target of being treated within nine months if not seen by the end of September and we are on track to meet this target.

“We have to address the waiting lists for outpatient appointments in a similar way. The Department of Health’s special delivery unit launched a national initiative in March to deal with outpatient waiting lists. The SDU have not yet set the targets for waiting for OPD appointment, however., in preparation we have already started working on action plans to reduce the waiting time using the resources of all the hospitals in the group. The new musculoskeletal clinic is a good example of where we are making progress already.”

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