Decommissioning of lower back pain procedures in Hillingdon: the patient experience

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Summary of report content

In June 2018, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust sent a letter to all patients affected by the implementation of two Low Back Pain Policies which had resulted in the decommissioning of acupuncture, for all interventions, and several spinal injection treatments. A total of 1,279 letters were sent and 40 individuals subsequently contacted Healthwatch Hillingdon to speak about their concerns and anxieties and gave their feedback. The results of the report state that the patients were shocked and confused to receive the letter. They thought that there was a lack of information as well as a lack of support for them. Patients wanted to know why they hadn’t been told of the decision much earlier and felt that they had been left without treatment for their condition. A follow-up feedback from 21 patients a month later revealed that only one patient was actively receiving treatment. Patients reported that the contact they’d had with NHS organisations, and the response from NHS professionals, had not eased their anger or confusion. The report made several recommendations for commissioners and service providers to consider regarding future policy implementation which included learning lessons and producing a framework; have a clear and consistent approach; identify clear roles and responsibilities of commissioners and providers; engage with the affected patients and stakeholders; forward this report’s findings to the Health and Wellbeing Board and the External Services Scrutiny Committee; add Healthwatch Hillingdon details in all future patient communications. This process was expected to be published to an agreed start date.

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General details

Report title 
Decommissioning of lower back pain procedures in Hillingdon: the patient experience
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hillingdon
Date of publication 
Thursday, 1 November, 2018
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 28 September, 2018
Type of report 
Patient experience
Key themes 
Continuity of care
Service closure
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
User stories
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Pain management clinics

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 
Musculosceletal conditions

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible Impact (cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.