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Research Paper Open Access
Objective The rheumatology department at The Royal Oldham Hospital developed a primary care service aimed at bridging the gap between primary and secondary care for patients with potential rheumatological conditions, and this was given the name rheumatology Tier 2. The objective of this study was to evaluate this primary care rheumatology service (Tier 2)in order to assess its validity, patient satisfaction and effectiveness.Design Ten patients participated in individual semi-structured interviews. Three GPs were interviewed individually, and two GPs formed a focus group. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the findings.Setting Patients were recruited from seven consecutive rheumatology Tier 2 clinics. GPs were recruited from Oldham Primary Care Trust (PCT) as this was the main source of patient referrals for the service.Results The key findings were in relation to the integration of primary healthcare and hospital services, i.e. the primary/secondary care interface. This highlighted the importance of early assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with suspected inflammatory arthritis.Conclusion Early diagnosis and treatment with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs improves patients’ outcomes. The rheumatology Tier 2 service built on this evidence and provided a rapid assessment and referral to secondary care for thosepatients with suspected inflammatory arthritis.
Innovative primary care, Primary care medicines, Advanced concepts in primary care