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A proposal from the Gloucestershire Health Community led by ²gether NHS Foundation Trust has been selected by the Health Foundation, an independent health care charity, to be part of its £1.5 million innovation programme, Innovating for Improvement.

The fourth round of the Innovating for Improvement programme is supporting 20 health care projects in the UK, with the aim of improving health care delivery and/or the way people manage their own health care by testing and developing innovative ideas and approaches and putting them into practice.

The initiative led by ²gether’s Let’s Talk service, aims to equip people experiencing Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) to live a healthier and happier life and reduce unnecessary medical attendance by introducing and evaluating a specialist primary care service for 12 months. This will build on the expertise of psychological therapists in the delivery of a new trans diagnostic cognitive behavioural therapy (tCBT).

The project will primarily impact upon patients experiencing MUS and their primary care team. MUS patients and GPs will be able to access and benefit from psychological support that they will previously have struggled to access. Impact will be measured by change in referral rates, patient outcomes, and GP feedback.

Over the course of the programme, the team will develop its innovative idea and approach, put it into practice and gather evidence about how the innovation improves the quality of health care.

The team will be led by ²gether’s Alison Sedgwick-Taylor and Julie White and the Let’s Talk Team, alongside local GP Dr Simon Opher in collaboration with Professor Paul Salkovskis and James Gregory from the University of Bath.

Alison Sedgwick-Taylor, on behalf of the team, said: “I am delighted to accept this award which will help the team to increase access to psychological therapy for patients who are struggling with low mood and/or anxiety and also living with medically unexplained symptoms and long term health conditions.”

Sarah Henderson, Associate Director from the Health Foundation, said: “We are very excited to be working with such a high-calibre of teams, who all have great innovative ideas. As an organisation we are keen to support innovation at the frontline across all sectors of health and care services, and I am pleased that we will be able to support these ambitious teams to develop and test their ideas over the next year.

“Our aim is to promote the effectiveness and impact of the teams’ innovations and show how they have succeeded in improving the quality of health care, with the intention of these being widely adopted across the UK.”

The programme will run for fifteen months and will receive up to £75,000 of funding to support the implementation and evaluation of the project.