Helen reflects on her first month at Connect
“I’m happy to say it’s going really, really well. After graduating 18 months ago, I joined the hospital based physio team at Wolverhampton. It was a very busy role, sometimes having to work over to keep on top of things.
When I first heard that the contract was going to Connect Health, I was aware of the company and there were a few rumours about a lack of focus on patient care and more on profits. I knew they were a big company and I think it was quite a big shock for the Trust. It was a voluntary move on my part to join Connect. MSK is an area I find really rewarding, but my apprehension was around losing the NHS identity and specialising in MSK after only 18 months, as I wondered if I had enough experience from rotations to build into my every day reasoning.
It wasn’t long before my worries were allayed. Speaking with other members of the team, they were all talking really positively about Connect. There is lots of support, appointment times are about the same, the package is better and I have more time to spend with family.
Little things really help – admin is superb
The admin support is fantastic, which means we have more time to spend with patients. Previously I’d have to do all my own letters. Firstly having to wait for a computer to come free – there were 4 computers between 10+ people. Then I’d write the letter, print it off, put it in the envelope and into the out-tray. Easily taking between 5-10 minutes each and doing around 3-4 letters, I could be spending half an hour a day on letters. Now I work from a template which populates itself with the patient information which is so quick. The computer does most of it for you – I just have to add the clinical bit, then the admin team print and post.
The computer system is also so much quicker than using paper notes, so again I’m able to spend more time doing hands-on treatment and assessment. Previously the computer was only used for physio tools like exercise prescription software. Now everyone has their own computer, and we have pre-printed exercise sheets. I do recognise that some people are more comfortable filling in forms manually but I love the fact that I can type quicker than I can write and duplication is wiped out.
Positive impact on patients
Patients have told me it’s been a lot quicker and easier to arrange appointments and if there are any problems, they find it much easier to contact someone. Previously a few people had said they could never get through on the same day and had to leave a voicemail. We did have a reception team of 3 but they would be managing arrivals and doing everything. Also there was only one phone line, so if someone was on the phone, only one patient could get through at a time, whereas we now have the back up of a large, always available admin team.
I had a lady came in a few weeks ago having had a tummy upset. She tried calling to say she couldn’t make the appointment and was able to speak to someone straight away and rearrange it. Whereas in the old system she said she wasn’t able to get through – she just wanted to do the right thing and it caused her some distress not knowing if the message had been relayed to the therapist.
Positive impact on me
It all comes down to having more time with patients, less time running around, it’s less stressful and there is more time to relax and focus on the patients while they are here. You are able to do a good job for them during the day without things running over and wearing you down.
Previously we had a mandatory on-call rota and weekend rotas, so once a month I lost a weekend, and as my family live down south it made it very difficult to see them.
There’s a bit more working by yourself now which gives me the opportunity to test things out and try things knowing that help is never too far away. Previously, if you had something perplexing, you may just go straight through to someone for help. Now I’m able to have time to work it through myself which improves my clinical reasoning skills and if you are still worried, there’s always someone nearby.
For me, the biggest advantage about working at Connect is you’re still working with the same patients and delivering what they need, in a stress free, supportive and fun environment.”