A new unique pathway of care for people with chronic pain

People with chronic pain are now benefitting from a new pathway of care which combines the expertise of physical and psychological health professionals to ensure the delivery of high quality evidence based support in line with NICE guidelines.

Patients can be referred by their GP to this ground breaking service - not available anywhere else in the UK; the persistent physical symptoms service (PPSS).

Supported by its own website the Persistent Physical Symptom Service (PPSS) has been helping people with chronic pain and other symptoms (including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) in North Cumbria for more than a year. More than 1500 patients have benefitted from the service.

The PPSS includes a team of experienced Clinical Psychologists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Cognitive Behavioural Therapists and Living Well Coaches 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.

More than 140 Cumbrian patients a month are now receiving specialist treatment by the team.

The service 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.

Elspeth Desert, Clinical Director for the Persistent Physical Symptoms Service said

“Having this fantastic resource available for our patients and colleagues here in Cumbria will ensure we have the best tools available to improve the quality of life of the hundreds of people in the county currently living with persistent pain and fatigue and other conditions. It will really make a difference to the care we can offer and to people’s lives.”

Joanna Manley, Network Manager for physical health and rehabilitation psychology 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 have welcomed the support from all health organisations (North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust and North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group) who have all worked together to develop the new ideas for ways of working. We are looking also looking forward to further developments in the months ahead.”

The PPSS team were featured in April’s Finance Healthcare Journal 2017 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.

This new way of working is ensuring that very few patients will need to go out of county for treatment and those who do will be accessing highly specialised treatments in centres of expertise.

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