A Physiotherapy team are supporting the West Devon economy by keeping people in work as patients are being seen quicker.

Crispin Mortimer leads a team at Tavistock Hospital clinic where they have been successful in reducing waiting lists thanks to increased staffing by the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (based at Derriford Hospital).

The issues people are presenting with range from sporting injuries, including from the specialist colleges, to longer term conditions of people retiring to Tavistock and take up walking on Dartmoor. In between are workforces with physical duties such as the large farming population who need treatment from injuries both acute and chronic. The work-related injuries are often knee or back and also include workers in the building trade or an employer like Princess Yachts.

Crispin said: “We’ve been very successful in bringing down waiting lists and reducing the time people wait for appointments due to increased staffing and consistent hard work from our staff. We’re meeting a large need locally and giving people a choice to be treated locally. We cover a huge geographic area which includes the farming community, building trades and tourism industry where workers often leave injuries untreated and then come to us when things have got worse. But it’s understandable when workers can’t afford to take time off work and might lose wages.

“However, we are relatively nearby and saving people having to travel all the way to Plymouth with the parking and travel costs. Now we can save them perhaps having to take a day off work by coming to us in Tavistock Hospital. It means that these patients are self-motivated to attend, so they can get back to work pain free. We get referral from doctors and other colleagues . Also, relatively new, from self-referrals (https://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/physio-self-referral-form-tavistock/) which means they are usually very keen to follow the pathways to recovery we suggest.

“We’re playing a positive role in keeping people at work and therefore, supporting the economy, which is very important for us as health professionals. It’s exactly what the NHS should be doing.”

Crispin and his colleagues, Helen Allen, Sally Bryan, Matt Pearson, Emily Sweet and James Armstrong, also signpost to strength and balance sessions at Meadowlands Leisure Centre and The Elder Tree organisation at Tavistock Methodist Church. These help people recover from and prevent injuries and long-term knee, hip, and back problems through exercise and are tailored to individuals.

He said that a sedentary life-style also plays a role in people’s aches and pains from sedentary work or due to people having a lack of confidence in their fitness and ability to exercise. The clinic offers its patients a knee and hip arthritis group where patients share experiences of self-management to stay mobile.