A SUNDERLAND woman, whose health problems meant she was visiting A&E up to twice a day, has hailed collaborative working for helping her manage her condition at home.

Linda Douglas, 48, from Washington, suffers from a range of complex health issues including: osteoarthritis, osteopenia, curvature of the spine, and abdominal discomfort following surgery for gall bladder and appendix removal. Linda was left desperate after experiencing pain so severe that she needed daily doses of morphine to control it. Now, thanks to the collaborative working approach of the Alliance and its partners, Linda and her carer husband John are looking forward to a happier 2016.

“We were at the end of our rope. Things had gotten so bad that I was either in total agony, or so drugged up on painkillers that I slept round the clock. Life wasn’t worth living,” said Linda, from Blackfell.

“I would feel that I was taking up a bed in hospital and taking up an ambulance that somebody really poorly might need, but at the same time, I had no other option. The pain would get so bad that I couldn’t cope and there was nobody willing to help me. It was a desperate situation. I used to just sit and cry. It was just awful.”

In this instance the Alliance collaborated with other partners under the ‘Community Integrated Teams’ initiative. This collaborative way of working provides joined-up care in a partnership that includes Sunderland GP Alliance, Sunderland City Council’s social care team, Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, Age UK Sunderland, Sunderland Carers Centre, and local Hospital Trusts, coming together to provide round the clock support for those who need it most.

General Practice is at the heart of this partnership providing clinical leadership to the Integrated Teams, supported by the MDT Co-ordinators employed by the Alliance, and based throughout the City in each of the localities, who play a vital role in co-ordinating the support required.

Mrs Douglas continued “The difference is night and day. It’s life changing. I didn’t want to live life the way I was, in and out of A&E all of the time. But when you are in desperate pain, you just need a solution. And at the time, that seemed to be the only way. Now, I am managing with the care of John, and the care plan that has been put together by my GP, MDT Co-ordinator and my consultant at the hospital means that we are fully supported by a team, should we need their help.”