Article Text

A ‘novel’ model for integrating Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) and Musculoskeletal (MSK) management into primary care in the UK
  1. Neil Heron1,2,3
  1. 1Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  2. 2Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  3. 3UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Neil Heron; nheron02{at}


Background Musculoskeletal (MSK) symptoms are common within primary care but some general practitioners (GPs)/family physicians do not feel comfortable managing these symptoms, preferring to refer onwards. We aimed to establish a reproducible GP-staffed MSK and sport and exercise medicine (SEM) clinic within primary care, in keeping with recent policy changes within the UK health system.

Methods A monthly MSK and SEM clinic was held within a Belfast GP practice, staffed by 1 GP with a specialist interest in MSK/SEM conditions, and its performance was reviewed over two 3-month periods. Parameters audited included diagnoses, patient satisfaction and secondary care referral rates.

Results 83 patients, 36 males and 47 females, were reviewed in the clinic and the main presenting joint was the shoulder. Patient self-reported satisfaction with the service was high. Comparing referral rates between August and October 2013 and the same period in 2014, overall referrals from the practice were reduced by 147, orthopaedic and rheumatology referrals were reduced by 2 and 3, while physiotherapy and X-ray referrals were reduced by 47 and 90, respectively. Comparing the referral rates between January and March 2014 and the same period in 2015, overall outpatient referrals were reduced by 152, orthopaedic and rheumatology referrals were reduced by 9 and 4, while physiotherapy and X-ray referrals were reduced by 41 and 3, respectively.

Discussion We present a novel, reproducible service model for managing MSK/SEM symptoms in primary care which could be commissioned by local groups. This model can make sound economic sense and deliver high patient satisfaction within primary care, reducing waiting times and the secondary care referral burden.

  • Health promotion
  • Intervention efficacy
  • Medicine
  • Physical activity promotion in primary care
  • Sporting injuries

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