Two telephone based systems for physiotherapy and occupational therapy have been selected as winners in the 2005 NHS health and social care awards.

OT Direct, a service run by Hampshire County Council, enables service users who require occupational therapy equipment to call a dedicated telephone line where requests are triaged. Those requiring simple equipment such as bath seats and grab rails are able to get advice and make arrangements to receive the equipment without the need to see a therapist.

Brian Pogson, who was the project manager for OT Direct and is a senior IT consultant in IT services with the council, said the project had won the Technology Award category because of its use of the workflow system, Metastorm e-Work.

He told EHI Primary Care: “The workflow system allows call centre staff to handle the requests for the simple equipment and then pass on the more complex cases to the qualified professionals to deal with.”

Since its launch in January 2004 OT Direct has handled more than 21,000 referrals and waiting lists for occupational therapy have fallen by a third. In 2005 the service was also the winner of the Government to Citizen category in the Government Computing BT Awards.

Another award winner in the health and social care awards was Caroline Hodgson, superintendent community pharmacist at Hambleton and Richmondshire Primary Care Trust. Hodgson has set up a telephone based triage service for physiotherapy called Physio Direct which won her the Allied Health Professional of the Year award.

Hodgson has led the introduction of Physio Direct which is a telephone based triage service offering assessment, provisional diagnosis, advice and management of musculoskeletal conditions for adults across the PCT.

Patients can self-refer to the service and a total of 69% of those initially contacting Physio Direct are managed without the need for a face-to-face consultation.

Hodgson told EHI Primary Care: “Our area is very rural and this is a very equitable system as almost everyone has access to a telephone. It also means you can get to people very quickly which means problems are less likely to become chronic and need more intervention.”

The winners were chosen from more than 2000 entrants and each of the national winners receives £15,000 to spend on sharing their ideas with others in the health and social care field.


NHS Health and Social Care Awards