By: 23 December 2015
New NHS England report highlights failings in orthotic care

New NHS England report highlights failings in orthotic care

A new report launched in November by NHS England is calling for urgent improvements to orthotic care, to improve the lives of children around the country – and save the NHS millions of pounds every year.

Orthotic services play an essential role in enabling quality of life for people with long term conditions, disabilities and limb loss. The “Improving the Quality of NHS Orthotics Care” report, published by the NHS England, calls for an improvement in the quality of orthotic care in England following consistently substandard levels of service provision, estimated at costing the NHS £390 million per year.

The report shows that current orthotic provision differs widely around the country, and sets out clear guidance to ensure that patients have quality, consistent care. Recommendations include the need for a consistent way of gathering and reviewing data on the quality of orthotic care, a model of the ideal service, and a three-year collaborative action plan.

The report has been welcomed by The Orthotics Campaign, which contributed significantly to the report’s findings and is urging clinical commissioning groups to take up the report’s recommendations. Campaign founder, Rebecca Loo, commented: “This report and the actions arising from it are the culmination of six years of local and national campaigning. By sharing their personal stories of slow and uncoordinated care, patients and their carers have been able to express how crucial orthotic care is to the quality of their lives and overall well-being.

“Timely and quality orthotic care enables people to be as mobile as they can, avoid unnecessary deformities, manage pain and to lead the fullest lives possible. Sadly, at present, many have to endure unreasonable waits to get their orthotic needs met.

“For children especially, delays mean they may be in pain, unable to walk or stand, or to carry on with school life. It can also mean having surgery that could be prevented. All this can badly affect sleep, behaviour, and overall wellbeing.”

Rebecca knows at first hand how important orthotics are – and what can happen when service is poor. Her son, David, 15, has hemiplegia and needs specially designed footwear and splints to help position his limbs correctly. The Loo family experienced such long delays in both appointments and provision – the footwear took over four months to arrive – that David lost all his mobility and became unnecessarily dependent on a wheelchair. He also missed out on schooling, affecting his development.

So in 2013, having heard that hundreds of people across England were struggling to access timely care, Rebecca launched “The Orthotics Campaign” as a national campaigning group. With assistance from Healthwatch, the campaign caught the attention of NHS England’s Director for Patient Experience, Neil Churchill, who headed up the review which culminated in the new report.

Source: Orthotics Campaign