Innovation puts Blackpool on clinical shortlist

Dr Chandini Rao

Innovative work to improve patient treatment and care has resulted in the rheumatology department at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals being shortlisted for a prestigious award.

The department, along with GP and public health colleagues, devised a system which improved access to the right care at the right time for rheumatology patients. The work has now been recognised by the British Society for Rheumatology who have shortlisted it for their Best Practice Award.

Rheumatology consultant, Dr Chandini Rao, who led the work, said: “The aim of our pilot was to remove referral barriers and ensure patients were seen in the most appropriate setting and in a timely manner.

“Instead of referring patients by letter, we spoke to the referrer by telephone to access the need of the patient and identify the best possible treatment route for their condition. Patients who would benefit from care through other services were also identified and signposted to the best option.”

Dr Rao added: “We found that telephone referrals gave us the best management of patients allowing us to fast track urgent referrals and inform GPs of all services available for treatment of rheumatology and associated conditions.”

Ten hospitals and partnerships have been listed for the awards and the winners will be announced at the British Society for Rheumatology annual conference in May.

“I feel very honoured that our team has been shortlisted among such a list of  fantastic projects,” Dr Rao added. “It is wonderful to be recognised for the work we do and this gives us a superb platform to share the outcomes of this project which has given best patient care and best use of resources.”

Patient care was improved by the initiative in a number of ways including enhanced fast tracking when necessary, patients being seen more appropriately by a variety of services, a decrease in waiting lists and an increase in awareness of all clinical services and options.

The Society will send a judging team to Blackpool Victoria Hospital to see the work of the rheumatology department. They will be given a 45 minute presentation on the referral project followed by a question and answer session with members of the team.

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