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New spinal clinics in North Wales brings care closer to home

Patients with spinal conditions can now access specialist care closer to their home as satellite clinics are introduced into North Wales for the first time. 

The Walton Centre, based in Liverpool, is working with the Health Board alongside the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt NHS Foundation Trust (RJAH) to provide care for spinal patients in North Wales.

Up until now, patients in the region who required a consultation with a spinal specialist were referred to the Walton Centre or the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt NHS Foundation Trust for further investigations.

The Walton Centre’s Consultant Spinal Surgeon Mr Narendra Kumar Rath is currently providing spinal clinics every other week in Holywell or Llandudno Community Hospitals.

He said: “The aim is always to do what is right for the patient, and in this case it was enhancing how they access The Walton Centre and its spinal services.

“As a part of our Care Close to Home initiative bringing clinics to some of the more remote regions the hospital serves, which means less travel and more meeting clinicians, which is often a stressful occurrence, in a familiar setting.

“It also provides opportunity to develop an inter-regional network among various specialities and truly serves as a multidisciplinary facet of this service. Having held clinics already, I can say with some confidence that both patients and clinicians are responding positively to having us closer to home. I would like to thank everyone in The Walton Centre management team, especially Ms Emma Denby for all the hard work she has put in to make this happen.”

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Trauma Lead at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Mr Dave Barlow has been working alongside colleagues over the last four years to improve care for spinal patients in North Wales.

He said: “Around four years ago, as part of the trauma improvements planned at the Maelor we identified spinal patients as a group that often have a long travel time to be seen, and as treating clinicians, felt an increasing isolation from the specialist referral centres.

“After developing some momentum, we started discussions with Spinal Physiotherapist Anna White in Bangor and Physiotherapy manager Nesta Mccluskey in Wrexham which led to meetings with clinical leads from the two specialist sites.

“I am delighted that years of hard work are paying off for the good of our patients in North Wales by having easier access to excellent spinal surgeons. A great deal of work has gone into this and I would like to thank Physiotherapy Manager Nesta Mccluskey and Spinal Physiotherapist Anne White for all their hard work for helping to set everything up.

“As clinicians we look forward to improving our knowledge, communication and cooperation, leading to improvement in patient care.”

Mr Birender Balain, Consultant Spine Surgeon at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), who is currently running the weekly clinic at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said: “The extension of these clinics, based at locations closer to patients’ homes, is highly beneficial for the patients. This greatly benefits other clinicians as well. A multi-disciplinary approach is most helpful, and this helps the Clinical Musculoskeletal Assessment and Treatment Service (CMATS) team as well by supporting them. Enhanced teaching through interaction helps to make the most effective treatment plans for patients in a timely manner.

“The clinics at Wrexham Maelor have, already in just a few months, helped a closer understanding between different specialities like spine surgery, pain clinics and CMATS clinicians, and it is great to see that.  This will result in better pathways for patient care and management in the long run.”

Yvonne Rimmer, Consultant MusculoSkeletal Therapist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “Having access to the spinal consultants from The Walton Centre and RJAH has enabled multi-disciplinary clinics to be set up where complex patients can be discussed and how best management advised, facilitating  provision of high quality care, through access to this expertise. “These case discussions have also reduced inappropriate referrals to tertiary services. Staff and their patients are better supported with these shared clinics in place.

“It has also enabled shared spinal learning events with orthopaedics, radiology and physiotherapists supporting spinal pathway improvement work.”

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Oliver Blocker, based at Ysbyty Gwynedd, added: “We are really pleased to be working hand in hand with our specialist referral centre colleagues at the Walton and RJAH.

“This will help us to deliver the highest quality of care more locally for our rural population using innovative models and the existing excellent CMATS therapy service to ensure we are improving the patient experience.”