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GP takes action over 'shoddy' orthopaedics

Dr Sarah Schofield was so appalled by the 'shoddy care' provided by orthopaedics in her area that she joined the board of her local acute trust to make a difference.

Dr Schofield, a GP in Southampton, helped set up a Government-funded scheme under which every patient referred to orthopaedic services is triaged within six weeks by a multi-professional team, including a GP specialist. The aim is to weed out inappropriate referrals that could be dealt with in primary care.

Consultant waiting times have dropped from 18 months to around 21 weeks in the two-and-a-half years since the introduction of the £90,000 scheme, part of the Department of Health's Action on Orthopaedics initiative.

Dr Schofield, assistant medical director of Southampton University Hospitals Trust, spoke of the scheme's success at an orthopaedics conference in London last month. She urged GPs to work more closely with secondary care to improve patient care. 'What GPs need to do is not just complain about the acute trust up the road, but actually get involved,' she said.

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