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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Virtual Fracture Clinic means fewer hospital visits for patients

Virtual Fracture Clinic means fewer hospital visits for patients

Posted on Tuesday 8th March 2016

Virtual fracture consultant and Dr Examine

A new virtual fracture clinic at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is showcasing how innovative ways of working can help reduce hospital visits and improve patient experience.

Patients who suffer minor fractures or broken bones can be treated in one visit without the need for a follow up appointment. When they attend A&E, digital x-rays are taken and their injury is initially treated by immobilising it with an appropriate splint, plaster cast or sling. The x-rays are then reviewed the next day by the orthopaedic consultant and specialist nurses who confirm a definitive treatment. 

The patient is then contacted via telephone by the orthopaedic nurse who informs them of their outcome and answers any questions they may have. In roughly half of all cases the patient does not need to return to the hospital. An increase in the number of splints used has also reduced the need for patients to make a trip to the hospital to have their plaster casts removed.  Splints are ideal for the treatment of stable injuries and allow the patient more freedom of movement.

If, for any reason, a patient needs to be seen by a specialist trauma nurse or consultant, an appointment will be made for a fracture clinic. A specialist helpline number is also given should they have any concerns as well as injury-specific information on the Trust’s website.

The clinic was trialled in September 2015 beginning in the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle. The trial was hugely successful and was then rolled out to the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven. This has enabled a seven day service in Whitehaven as the images are sent to Carlisle for the duty trauma technicians to review. 

David Mackay, orthopaedic consultant at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, said: “The virtual clinic is a great boost for the Trust. In nearly half of all the cases we see there does not need to be a second visit by the patient. This is hugely beneficial for the patient and frees up staff time in the hospital.”