A leading North-East physiotherapist is warning of the dangers of a long-term health problem affecting the region.
Paul Gough, with four Physio Rooms across the area, admits he was horrified to hear one of his patients was referred to a pharmacist for medical assessment.
And with waiting lists on the NHS at record lengths and GP surgeries under increasing pressure, Paul said: “We have had experience of one patient actually being told to visit a pharmacist for assessment for a frozen shoulder after calling 111. Patient assessment is most certainly not the job of a pharmacist.
“But that is the sad situation we are in right now and I can’t emphasise the importance of seeking out the correct diagnosis and treatment.
“We really do sympathise with the Government and the current situation, but this needs to be brought to attention. We all saw the headlines last week about record numbers of patients on hospital waiting lists and this problem isn’t going to disappear quickly.
“Delays now with assessments and real treatment – and I am not talking being told to take painkillers here in the hope the issue will just go away – will cause long-term problems for a generation.”
Paul Gough Physio Rooms has clinics in Hartlepool, Darlington, Guisborough and Durham and appointment books are filling up quickly as people turn to private practices for treatment to ensure their problems can be solved quicker than waiting for NHS diagnosis.
As the health service focused on the pandemic, the danger of common injuries being forgotten about is real. Nearly 388,000 people are recorded as waiting more than a year for non-urgent surgery, compared with just 1,600 before the pandemic began.
Extra physiotherapists have been taken on across Paul’s clinics to cope with demand and he added: “We are talking about life-limiting injuries and issues.
“A stiff ankle or knee injury can lead to the onset of arthritis. Back pain not being treated will lead to long-term issues with posture.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that what may seem like a trivial matter, that ankle sprain you suffered while out walking or running, can lead to a bigger problem.
“With long waiting lists and GP surgeries being held virtually or over the phone, we are open and treating patients and their problems directly. All our staff have been vaccinated, and there’s Covid-secure measures we all follow.”
Paul, the former Darlington Football Club head physiotherapist, added: “We all read the stories over the weekend about years of backlog for essential services and surgeries in the NHS and more and more people are coming to us to have their problems eased and resolved.
“Right now we are in the process of adding extra staff and resources to our Physio Rooms to cope with demand – we are actually busier than ever as people put their faith in private practices.”
Paul Gough Physio Rooms can be contacted on 01429 866771 or at paulgoughphysio.com