‘Musculoskeletal’ is a ‘catch-all’ description for a diverse set of conditions affecting bone and joint health, the most common being osteoarthritis/chronic joint pain, but also including inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Most of us will experience issues with our bone or joint health at some point in our lives, but the burden of the musculoskeletal group of illnesses receives little publicity, compared to other conditions.
After mental health and cardiac health, MSK uses more resources than other diseases treated by the NHS. Around 20 per cent of all GP consultations are MSK related (the second highest) and it accounts for around 25 per cent of all surgical interventions.
With an ageing population, and a growing obesity problem in young people, the demand for healthcare for MSK will soon be unsustainable.
Clinicians, industry partners, NHS service managers, MSK charity representatives and patients were brought together at a workshop in September 2013 to launch the Musculoskeletal programme. The event revealed wide variations in clinical models in place for common MSK conditions across South London.
It was evident that knee, hip and back pain are among the most prevalent problems for patients, and that early intervention, using types of treatments with a proven track record, and more focus on prevention and self-help, should be the key programmes of work.
We are currently working on a range of projects aimed at improving management of osteoarthritis in primary and community care.
We are working closely with all three key national charities for osteoarthritis: Arthritis Care UK, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) and Arthritis Research UK. These relationships help ensure our projects address the key issues for patients with osteoarthritis.
Recognising that problems with bone and joint health affect many people of working age, the MSK Programme also hosts the HIN's work to support members in improving health and wellbeing of staff. For information, please see our Projects page.