FINANCE: A four-strong consortium of Sussex providers has scooped a five-year musculoskeletal contract worth £210m.

The group was formed as the Sussex Musculoskeletal Partnership and includes Brighton and Hove Integrated Care Service; Horder Healthcare; Sussex Community Trust; and Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust. The contract was awarded by Brighton and Hove, Crawley and Horsham and Mid Sussex clinical commissioning groups.

The service is due to launch in October with “hubs”, offering specialist treatment working alongside smaller “spokes”, offering more commonplace treatments. The arrangement aims to provide more treatments closer to patients’ homes.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust and Surrey and Sussex Hospitals Trust will provide care as part of the contracting arrangements.

The partnership’s new care pathways have been drawn up  with the input of current MSK patients and local GPs.

Sussex MSK Partnership will also be bidding for two other MSK contracts due to be procured by CCGs in Sussex – for East Sussex and Coastal West Sussex.

The partnership is an example of joint working between clinicians and managers.

Peter Devlin, one of the joint clinical directors of the partnership and a GP in the area, described it as an “effective demonstration of clinicians and managers working together”.

Mental health care will be an important part of the MSK team’s work, Mr Devlin added.

“Patients with long-term conditions and chronic pain, without necessarily having a specific mental health diagnosis, often have very low aspirations because of the chronic effect of ill health on their self-esteem and well-being.

“By integrating physical and mental health you’re able to re-set peoples’ aspirations and motivations and that’s an extraordinarily powerful part of transforming the way these services are provided.”

The contract award comes amid signs that CCGs in Sussex are keen to offer similar contracts for other care pathways.

Brighton and Sussex Trust’s March board papers said that commissioners in the areas were adopting “prime provider models”. These gave “financial responsibility for demand management to the provider of the services.”

They added: “Commissioners have indicated that they are keen to apply this approach to Dermatology and potentially Ophthalmology services.”