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Published 19 February 2019
The GIRFT programme led by Professor Tim Briggs is designed to improve healthcare practices, techniques and processes for the benefit of patients. The latest report looks at spinal services offered in the NHS in England. NHS Resolution data shows these services are now creating more claims than ever costing £100m per year.
Mr Mike Hutton, Consultant Spinal Surgeon, and his GIRFT team conducted a comprehensive review of current service which he says needs to 'catch up' with other surgical specialties on new technologies, collation of data and learning from incidents. High quality care was identified but significant geographical variations exist. The Report makes 22 recommendations to reduce variation and improve patient outcomes and value for money.
Read on to consider the impact of the Spinal Services GIRFT Programme National Speciality Report.
The first issue Mike Hutton's team considered was 'what a good spinal service looks like'. The answer was a good clinically led service working collaboratively with its management and a service focusing on the holistic patient journey, starting with initial diagnosis and aiming for the best possible outcome for that patient in the most cost-effective way. The service should be supported by robust governance with clinicians meeting regularly both locally and on a wider geographic scale to discuss clinical issues. An exemplar service will offer transparency on complications and provide comprehensive outcomes data.
The GIRFT team found pockets of high quality care around the country alongside great variation. Following 127 site visits and collation of all findings they looked at areas for improvement and shared examples of good practice for other trusts to learn from. Findings were linked to 22 recommendations offering practical solutions to improve the spinal service in England. Two key examples are:
The further findings were wide ranging and we pick out the highlights with improvement recommendations:
Whilst lengthy, the Report provides an extremely digestible summary of the range of spinal services currently on offer in England with achievable recommendations for streamlining the service and achieving economies of scale to improve both the patient journey and crucially the clinical outcome. At the same time, it allows for cost savings to occur through a more joined-up way of working. Whilst some of the recommendations may take a level of reorganisation on both a regional and national basis before the benefits can be seen, the examples of good practice allow for changes which can be put in place now.
Our team of legal healthcare experts can advise providers across the health sector on the full range of issues that these recommendations raise and assist with the necessary response to implementation. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.
[i] SBN and BASS - Society of British Neurological Surgeons and British Association of Spine Surgeons Guidance
+44 (0)1962 705513
+44 (0)113 251 4807
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