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Orthopaedic Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (OCATS) in Warrington – FAQs

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What is an initial assessment and how long will it last?

An initial assessment is the first virtual or face to face appointment with your physiotherapist who will carry out a comprehensive examination of the condition.

It will last between 20 to 60 mins.

Subsequent appointments are shorter, approximately 20 to 30 mins.

This will depend on which service you are attending for.

  • The first part of examination involves a variety of questions about your condition, medical and social history.
  • The second part is physical examination where the physiotherapist will ask you to perform a variety of movements to assess function. You should wear comfortable and suitable clothing to aid assessment.
  • During the initial assessment, if deemed appropriate, you may be required to complete a questionnaire and different treatment options will be discussed. To gain appropriate long term benefit from physiotherapy, it is very important that you are willing to comply with your recommended treatment/exercises on a regular basis.
  • Your physiotherapist will also provide you with appropriate advice, including lifestyle and self-management advice.
  • You may be asked to provide your email address. This can be useful to send you an exercise programme and links to any other important information relating to your condition.
  • Children under the age of 16 should be accompanied by an adult or a legal guardian.
  • To provide appropriate support for non-English speaking patients, we can arrange a suitable interpreter.
  • At the end of the session we may be asked to complete a questionnaire. Please be assured all information will be treated as confidential.

Why have I been referred to Physiotherapy before having a scan?

Your referral to our physiotherapy service may have been made via a wide range of different healthcare professionals (eg. nurses, GP’s, consultants etc.).

These professionals believe that the difficulties that you are experiencing can be best dealt with by a musculoskeletal physiotherapist. In the majority of cases imaging is not required.

Our clinicians are experts in the area of musculoskeletal medicine and by being able to take a thorough patient history as well as performing a physical assessment, they will be able to reason whether further investigations are required to either provide a specific diagnosis or to help with effective management of the symptoms.


What is the standard wait time?

Unfortunately, waiting times vary and are difficult to establish or predict because they constantly change depending on the department’s demand and the amount of referrals we receive.

Maximum waiting time for non-urgent referral is approximately 18 weeks.


What do I need to bring to my appointment?

As you may be required to undress, please wear or bring with loose fitting clothing, such as shorts and t-shirt.  A vest may be more appropriate for a shoulder/neck problem.

Changing areas are available – please ask the receptionist or clinician.


How long will my appointment take?

Appointment times can vary. For an initial assessment it can take 45-60minutes and for a follow up appointment it can take 30-60 minutes.

Class times can range from 45-60 minutes.

Back Skills training programme can take up to 90 minutes per session


What do I do if I am unable to attend my appointment / need to cancel my appointment?

Please contact the physiotherapy department as soon as you know you are unable to attend your appointment.

Telephone – 01925 251407
Email – warringtonphysio1@nhs.net

Having been referred to the service. You will receive an opt-in letter seeking confirmation that you still wish to receive physiotherapy input from our service.

If you do don’t respond to the opt-in letter within 10 working days; you will be discharged.

Please provide your details if sending an email or leaving a message on the voicemail.

If you fail to attend your appointment you will be discharged unless you contact the department within 3 days of the missed appointment.

Patients must be aware that if they cancel their initial appointment on two consecutive occasions for the same pathway, they may be discharged unless the staff member is aware of any exceptional mitigating circumstances physiotherapy service.


Why has my appointment changed?

Referrals into our service are looked at daily to ensure patients are seen by the most appropriate member of our team and in order of clinical priority.

If the clinician feels your problem requires a different therapist or service your appointment will be changed.


How many appointments will I need?

Some patients may only require one visit and will be discharged with self-management advice or referred onto another service.

Other patients may require additional visits and these are based on clinical need.

There is no limit on the number of appointments that a patient can receive but there is never a need for anyone with a musculoskeletal pain condition to continue to require on-going physiotherapy input.

The appointments can vary in regularity, ranging from weekly to monthly.

At the end of treatment you may be formally discharged or placed on an Open Appointment that can last up to 3 months.

An open appointment is where there is no formal follow up appointment booked but if the patient feels that they require further assistance within this timeframe, they can contact the service and a formal follow up appointment can be arranged with their physiotherapist.


Is treatment painful?

Neither the assessment nor the treatment is intended to be painful.

The clinician may ask the patient to move in certain ways or with the patients consent the physiotherapist may themselves move parts of the patient’s body in certain ways in order to help form a working diagnosis.

If a patient does experience pain during or after having had the appointment, it shouldn’t last longer than 24 to 48 hours.

There is no intent on the part of the physiotherapist to harm a patient. The clinician will not perform any activities without the patients’ informed consent.


Who do I contact to change my appointment?

Please call us on 01925 251407 to change your appointment.


I would like to see a physiotherapist of the same gender. How do I arrange this?

Please contact us as soon as possible on 01925 251407 and we can arrange this for you.

This may result in a delay in re-booking due to the demands on our service, but will accommodate you as best we can.


I need an interpreter.  How do I arrange this?

Please contact us on 01925 251407 and we can arrange this for you.

We can arrange interpretation including sign language but this needs to be arranged in advance.


When are you going to offer face to face appointments?

As a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we are not able to see patients in a routine face to face setting at present.

Unfortunately, we are also not able to state when routine face to face appointments will be able to recommence. We continue to set out our current operating procedures in line with government policy.

Through the information that we are able to get from the patient via telephone or video consultation.

If we feel that there is a clinical need for the patient to come into the service for a face to face assessment, this can be arranged.

This would be on an individual, case by case basis and the patient would have to follow strict infection control guidelines in order to allow this to happen.


What are we supposed to do if we are in a lot of pain but have been told that my appointment with the physiotherapist is not for at least two months?

If you are continuing to experience pain that you are having difficulty controlling, if you have not already done so, contacting your GP or your local pharmacist would be advised.

They can be in a position where they can give you clear advice on the appropriate use of pain relief medications as well as other non-pharmacological strategies

Please follow this link to our resources page which may provide some useful information

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