"Back pain physiotherapy sessions need to be longer"

About: Specialist services / Musculoskeletal and rehabilitation service

(as the patient),

I would like to share my experience of NHS physiotherapy treatment in Leeds for chronic back pain, the latter of which I have experienced over many years.

I went to a non-NHS physio provider for a number of years at a cost of £50 for a one hour session. When I began to experience numbness in one leg I decided to go to the doctor and they referred me for an MRI scan.

I was then seen by a consultant physio who accepted me for a course of physiotherapy intervention. My appointments were for 20 minutes and I was shown exercises, which I have continued to do as prescribed, twice a day. I was told I could be referred, via my GP, back to the service if my back deteriorated.

It did deteriorate pretty soon after finishing treatment but I didn't have the heart to go back to my GP and start the process again (the first time I had to wait 3 months in such pain I couldn't stand over the sink to brush my teeth in the morning) so paid for a private physiotherapist. I have a 45 minute session and they do lots of hands-on corrective work as well as giving me exercises.

I am lucky I can afford to pay for this treatment. I just don't see how chronic back pain can be properly addressed with a 20 minute appointment and exercise alone. If I couldn't pay for it privately I'd no doubt be on pain killers, which would cost the NHS much more money over time.

Chronic back pain is the number one reason for long term sickness absence from work and costs the economy enormous amounts. In my view it would be more cost effective in the long term to provide more substantial physiotherapy input with appointment times which mean that specialists can work in a meaningful way with their patients.

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Responses

Response from clare wyke, Patient Experience Team, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear betty b,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience of our services - all feedback is important to us. I am sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with the service you received. In order to respond fully to the specific issues you raised I will be discussing your concerns with the service manager. I will then be able to reply in more detail.

With best wishes

Clare

Patient Experience Team

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Response from clare wyke, Patient Experience Team, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear betty b

Thank you again for your comments about our Musculoskeletal (MSK) Physiotherapy Service. Having discussed your concerns with the Head of Service I am now in a position to respond more fully.

Where patients have chronic back pain without additional signs or symptoms, the evidence based practice is to promote self-management through physical activity and specific exercises. Our commissioners (NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds and the Clinical Commissioning Groups) have requested a pain management approach as opposed to hands on treatment.

Usually, other forms of treatment would only be discussed where self-management has not been successful. I am sorry that in your case you waited significantly longer than our normal waiting time of 1-6 weeks for our MSK appointments, and that this affected your confidence in re-contacting the service for further support.

If you would like to discuss the specifics of your experience in more detail please contact Caroline McNamara (Head of MSK) on Tel: 0113 3924694.

On a more global note, a Chronic Spinal Pain Management Programme is being commissioned in Leeds. I hope that this goes some way to assuring you that services for people with Chronic Back Pain are considered an important part of the overall healthcare provision.

With best wishes

Clare

Patient Experience Team

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Response from Leeds PCT

Dear betty b

As Clare mentions in her response above, NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds is currently consulting with patients and members of the public about our plans for a new service for patients with chronic back and neck pain. The aim of this new service is to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of service for their condition to help them cope with their chronic pain.

We would value your views and opinions about our proposals for developing this new service. If you would like to take part please visit our website at www.leeds.nhs.uk to have your say. Alternatively you can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0800 0525 270 who will be happy to send you a copy of the proposals.

Thank you.

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