The Persistent Physical Symptom Service (PPSS) celebrate their 1st year

More than 140 Cumbrian patients a month are now receiving specialist treatment for persistent pain thanks to a ground breaking new service. The Persistent Physical Symptom Service (PPSS) at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) is unique, being the only service of its kind and is helping patients, who have long term physical symptoms, to understand and have the confidence to manage their symptoms.

In their first year the service has helped more than 1500 patients and the feedback has been positive: Sue Just, attended a ‘Better Living with Health group in Kendal said “When I was first asked if I’d like to join a group on a course ‘Better Living with Health’ I felt really unsure but said I would go along to it to see what it was like. When it came to the first day of the course, I felt very apprehensive and nervous but told myself, it was better to try it and not like it, than not try it at all, and possibly miss out on something good. Also, I knew that if I didn’t like it I could leave. Well, all I can say is that the course was one of the best things I ever did. The people running the group were very approachable, laid back, had a great sense of humour (which in my opinion is very important) they were non-regimental and made everyone feel very relaxed & welcome; an approach that stayed throughout the course. Mixing with other people with the same or similar problems was fantastic, because it made me realise that I wasn’t alone in life. It made me feel sane. This made me feel normal. I also learnt a lot about my illness and how to cope with it – all in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The list goes on. But to say it was a group I really looked forward to going to each session speaks volumes not only for the tutors and group members but also the atmosphere and content of the sessions. The initial nerves and apprehension are a normal feeling going into the unknown, so my advice to anyone being offered the chance to attend a group is: go along to it, and give it a try. It could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make”.

The PPSS includes a team of experienced Psychologists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Cognitive Behavioural Therapists and Rehabilitation Assistants offering therapy, support and advice for patients and professional with persistent physical symptoms that have lasted for longer than six months. These conditions are defined by ongoing symptoms rather than by underlying medical diseases. Some common symptoms are pain, fatigue, dizziness and numbness, but there are many others. The service provides both individual and group therapy.

Joanna Manley, the Service Development Lead in the PPSS service. She said “We are delighted with the development and success of the service, with the feedback of improvements in self-management of symptoms exceeding our expectations. We have a one team approach using skills and expertise, in a collaborative way, to run individual therapy and patient groups but also to train and mentor health professionals across Cumbria. We welcome the support of commissioners who have supported the new ideas for ways of working. We are looking forward to further developments in the months ahead”.

The PPSS team were featured in April’s Finance Healthcare Journal as an example of how the service was developed using best practice, demonstrating financial savings alongside improving quality of care. Future developments are now underway, with a number of other organisations expressing an interest in developing this new model of care.