24/05/2021 | Press releases

Virtual fracture clinic hailed a success

Nearly 700 patients a month are receiving effective care for suspected broken bones while making fewer trips to Colchester Hospital following the introduction of a virtual fracture clinic.

The clinic gives orthopaedic consultants the chance to review the notes, histories and x-rays of any patient coming to Colchester Hospital’s emergency department, Clacton’s minor injuries unit or Harwich’s urgent treatment centre with a suspected fracture within just 24 hours of their visit.

They can then decide whether to discharge the patient if no further action is needed, or arrange for them to come in for a follow up appointment.

Every month, the clinic manages around 670 referrals and discharges more than 200 patients who need no further treatment, which prevents them from having to come back to hospital unnecessarily to be discharged face-to-face. As well as improving convenience for patients, this means that more clinic slots are also being freed up for those who do need additional treatment, such as surgery, a plaster cast or onward referral to their GP or a physiotherapist.

The clinic is also making sure that patients who do need to come back are seen at the right time, while also ensuring everyone receives exactly the same care, regardless of where they live.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Mahbub Alam, who set up the clinic alongside nursing staff, the plaster room team and admin colleagues, said: “The virtual fracture clinic is a brilliant example of successful team working which is making a real difference to our patients.

“Previously, patients going to ED with a fracture would automatically be invited back to the orthopaedic clinic several days later. This was very inconvenient for patients who need no further treatment, as it meant they would have to make an unnecessary trip to hospital just to be discharged.

“In addition, the virtual clinic means that every patient’s notes and x-rays are reviewed by a consultant within 24 hours of their injury. We feel this provides a gold standard of service and additional safety, as every x-ray is double checked by a senior member of staff to ensure nothing has been missed.

“As well as improving the experience our patients have when receiving care, the clinic is also helping us use our appointment slots most effectively while making sure that everyone receives the most appropriate treatment, from the right professional, first time. It also means patients in Clacton and Harwich receive the same level of care as patients seen at Colchester.

“We have had some fantastic feedback from our patients about the initiative, which was also highlighted as best practice by the CQC during their last inspection.”

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