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New hip, knee joint screening clinic working well

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A hip and knee joint screening outpatient clinic run at The Palms in Palmerston North this year is already proving its worth, with 240 patients being seen in its first 13 weeks.

A MDHB registered nurse and physiotherapist review patients referred by their GPs to the orthopaedic outpatient clinic for a knee, and/or hip joint assessment. Rather than a hospital appointment, patients are seen in a community setting clinic at The Palms.

The new service aims to: improve patient satisfaction and timeliness of care; ensure most efficient use of consultant time, by only having those patients likely to benefit from surgery going on to finish a first specialist assessment; and focusing on self-management education to prevent further patient disablement, and help people live as well as possible with their condition.

Following a successful six-month pilot project last year, the clinic began on 25 January and between then and 4 May, a total of 240 patients were seen.

Of these 167 (70percent) were cleared for an orthopaedic consultant review; 65 (27percent) didn’t meet the criteria for an orthopaedic consultant review as their condition was not severe enough; and eight (3percent) did meet the criteria, but because of other conditions, needed referral back to their GP before a specialist assessment could be offered.

Of the 167 accepted for a consultant review, ten did not meet the criteria but because of their wider circumstances it was felt they would benefit from a consultant review. For instance, these people were often caregivers to family members in paid work that was being impacted by their disablement or were self-employed.

The majority of clinic patients came from Palmerston North (95), and Horowhenua (90), while 33 came from Manawatu, and 22 from Tararua.

Clinics are held on two days a week, and another day is used for staff to prepare notes for all upcoming appointments.

Operations Director of Hospital Services Lyn Horgan said: “This is another successful initiative where we have taken the clinic out of the hospital and made it available in a community setting. Feedback from patients is that they love being seen quicker in a non-hospital environment, and it also frees up time for orthopaedic consultants to do other work, while pre-assessment work is largely completed for them at the new clinic.”

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