East London NHS Foundation Trust’s pioneering holistic project receives Health Foundation funding

After running a successful pilot aimed at developing integrated and innovative care for patients with medically unexplained symptoms, East London NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded funding from The Health Foundation to share the successes of the pilot scheme across the NHS.

In 2014 the pilot project was funded by the Health Foundation to develop a more holistic approach towards patients in Newham who presented with medically unexplained symptoms. These symptoms were varied and included everything from headaches, muscle pain and fatigue through to shortness of breath. Patients with these symptoms are often at risk of unmet health needs due to the complex nature of their issues.

The Trust will now be looking to share the results of the pilot programme with clinicians, GPs and nurses with training packages for primary care providers and training workshops for Dance Movement Psychotherapists and Body Psychotherapists to deliver aspects of the treatment programme. There will also be a website launched to provide online resources for those who are working across the country with patients with medically unexplained symptoms. The results of the scheme will take centre stage at a national conference in May 2016 being organised by the Trust. This will also be a further regional half day conference and workshops to disseminate the findings.

Those who took part in the project experienced an integrated service that not only sought to address physical symptoms but helped patients to engage with a wider range of health concerns that they may have been experiencing.

The results found a reduction in the number of physical health complaints and an improvement in their general quality of life. Overall there was also a reduction in the use of medical services in the following six months after engagement with the project, an encouraging sign for both patient and healthcare providers alike.

Professor Frank Röhricht, Associate Medical Director at the Trust said “I am delighted the Health Foundation awarded us funding as part of their work to spread improvement and support dissemination. The project has allowed us to explore how to best develop an integrated care pathway across East London for patients with functional bodily distress symptoms. This is an excellent example of partnership work between primary and secondary care providers, between GPs and medical specialists, and we now have the opportunity to share our experience and knowledge with other clinicians across the NHS."

For more information, please contact Professor Frank Röhricht on Frank.Rohricht@elft.nhs.uk

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