This is a category taken from the full feed of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis news provided by ARMA's members.
  • The Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) is the umbrella body for the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK, and our mission is to transform the quality of life of people with musculoskeletal conditions. We have 40 member organisations ranging from specialised support groups for rare diseases to major research charities and national professional bodies.


The webinar will outline the development of the JSNA chapter and why this is important for improving the musculoskeletal health of a local population. Ian Bernstein and Rutuja Kulkarni-Johnston will outline the process of developing an MSK JSNA chapter. Kevin Fenton will explore the benefits of this and how it might be used.

The London Borough of Ealing and NHS Ealing CCG published the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) chapter on Musculoskeletal Health in December 2017. The JSNA is a statutory document that describes the health and social care needs of the population, identifies gaps and unmet needs, and makes evidence-based recommendations to health and social care commissioners.

Two versions have been published: a visually appealing ‘Focus on’ Musculoskeletal Health chapter provides a compact, easy-to-navigate review. The full version adopts the life course approach proposed by Arthritis Research UK (ARUK), and includes both national data from the Global Burden of Disease, and local data from the ARUK Musculoskeletal Calculator.

See our post on the update to the Ealing MSK JSNA Chapter.

Who should attend:

Directors of Public Health, senior policy makers, health and social care commissioners, Health and Well-being Boards, providers tendering for services, patient groups.


Ian Bernstein, Clinical Lead for Musculoskeletal Transformation, NHS Ealing CCG and NW London STP
Rutuja Kulkarni-Johnston, Consultant in Public Health, London Borough of Ealing
Professor Kevin Fenton MD PhD FFPH, Director of Health and Wellbeing, Southwark Council

Register in advance for this webinar.

The next joint meeting of the ARMA / Haywood User Group is on Friday, 16 February at 1pm in the Seminar room at the Haywood Hospital, Tunstall, Stoke on Trent. Refreshments are available from 12.30pm.

Geoff Lawton, chair of the ARMA Network for Stoke on Trent, is currently involved in a consultation process regarding the design process for the local health services. This consultation looks at the local provision of community beds, which involves the Discharge to Access (D2A) model. We are discussing with our CCGs the provision of care available when patients are discharged from hospital.

Happy New Year to all our supporters.

Although it is hard to feel that it will be happy for the NHS as winter crisis stories filled the media. Everyone in Government including the Prime Minister was forced to apologise as routine operations were postponed to help cope with the pressure of emergencies. Ministers appeared in the media to argue that the moves were part of a planned response and therefore there was no “crisis”. Listening to the coverage I took a small crumb of comfort: again and again, when giving an example of the negative impact of delays, hip and knee operations were mentioned. I heard all the arguments we make about the importance of MSK conditions – the impact on patients in terms of pain, the fact people may have to give up work. This awareness of the effectiveness of surgery for MSK conditions can only help the work we are doing to combat increasing restrictions by CCGs. By commissioning an effective pathway of care, including preventive services, NHS money could be better spent enabling those who do need surgery to get it rapidly, and those who don’t to manage their conditions better and continue to live the life they want.

ARMA has some exciting plans for 2018 which should capitalise on the increasing awareness of musculoskeletal conditions. At the end of last year Public Health England published guidance on healthy ageing and MSK health. NHS England has a number of initiatives aimed at improving MSK services, and we are looking forward to working with the Department for Work and Pensions on increasing the numbers of people with MSK conditions who are able to work. ARMA will continue to ensure that our members are able to support these opportunities. I’ve already had one meeting with one of our members about how they can engage with our networks to improve services locally, and I am looking forward to many more in the weeks to come. Look out for our new MSK Knowledge Hub to be launched early this year, and the next in our webinar series coming soon.

Whilst the NHS is undoubtedly struggling with many pressures, there will also be positives in 2018. From Public Health England giving more profile to MSK to the work and health agenda making progress along with our ongoing partnership working with NHS England and a new Wales ARMA network, there are so many opportunities for improving services and the lives of people with MSK conditions. So, I wish you a happy and positive 2018, and look forward to working with many of you to realise that.

The London Borough of Ealing and NHS Ealing CCG published their update to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) chapter on Musculoskeletal Health in December 2017. The JSNA is a statutory document that describes the health and social care needs of the population, identifies gaps and unmet needs, and makes evidence-based recommendations to health and social care commissioners.

Two versions have been published.  A visually appealing ‘Focus on’ Musculoskeletal Health chapter provides a compact, easy-to-navigate review, and is essential reading for commissioners and providers of musculoskeletal services:

A comprehensive and fully referenced evidence-based JSNA chapter on Musculoskeletal Health is also available, including a complete list of recommendations.  The full version adopts the life course approach proposed by Arthritis Research UK (ARUK), and includes both national data from the Global Burden of Disease, and local data from the ARUK Musculoskeletal Calculator.  This will be of interest to Directors of Public Health and senior policy makers:

Contact for a copy of the templates.


The British Society for Rheumatology has launched the Inflammatory Arthritis toolkit in partnership with the Royal College for GPs and health professionals. Designed to facilitate earlier treatment for this condition, this toolkit aims to be a user-friendly guide to inflammatory arthritis for primary care professionals, people affected by arthritis and clinical commissioning groups.

The RCPG have also provided a summary here.

NHS England and the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) are delighted to be hosting a South East Regional Musculoskeletal (MSK) one-day conference on Tuesday 28 November 2017 at the Arora Hotel, Crawley. The event is sponsored by NHS England and ARMA and is part of their joint MSK programme and will be organised by the Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network.

Register now! using this link:

The South East System MSK event will promote a coherent approach to transforming MSK services across the region by working directly with South East Sustainability Transformation Plans (STPs) footprints to support improvement in the quality of MSK care. Throughout the day we’ll be:

  • promoting best practice by sharing local case studies
  • looking at what’s working well and what’s not
  • understanding trend data relating to MSK pathway
  • explore data sources and national tools to help us gain insight into making much needed improvements
  • exploring what this means for service delivery at a local level

Chaired by Mr Nigel Acheson, Regional Medical Director (South), NHS England and Professor Anthony Woolf, ARMA chair confirmed topics and speakers include:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions: a national perspective, Professor Peter Kay, National Clinical Director, NHS England
  • A public health approach to musculoskeletal care, Dr Benjamin Ellis, Consultant Rheumatologist/Senior Clinical Policy Advisor, Arthritis Research UK
  • Getting It Right First Time – Regional Variation, Mr Mike Hutton, Spinal Surgery Clinical Lead, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  • Local case studies: a series of presentations on good practice examples

By conference close, we hope to have identified and agreed local priorities and actions which will have the greatest impact for this patient group.

This free event is for all professionals from the rheumatic and MSK community including commissioners, patient representatives, relevant clinicians, primary, secondary and community care. The event will be hosted at The Arora Hotel, Crawley on Tuesday 28 November, 9.30 – 4.00pm. Please share this invitation with any colleagues you feel would also benefit from attending.

For full conference details and to book your place, please use the link below:

We look forward to seeing you there and transforming our local MSK care services together.

Best wishes,

The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) is pleased to announce the recent publication of four revised commissioning guides with the Royal College of Surgeons of England. These NICE-accredited guides set out best practice care pathways to assist CCGs in designing optimal care for their populations. We are extremely grateful to all those involved in the rigorous development and accreditation processes. The guides, which can be found here, are:

  • Pain Arising from the Hip in Adults
  • Painful Deformed Great Toe in Adults
  • Painful Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Following the recent BOA and ARMA position statements on the rationing of elective orthopaedic services, we are urging stakeholders to consider these guides and to promote their adoption wherever appropriate with local CCGs. The use of these guides will assist CCGs to deliver high quality care in each of these pathways.

If you have any further questions, please contact

Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions affect the bones, joints and muscles, and burdens the lives of so many people.

Musculoskeletal conditions are now the UK’s the biggest cause of pain and disability, accounting for an astounding one-in-five of all visits to the GP. Furthermore, trends indicate that more people than ever will be affected by MSK disorders in the coming years, which is why preventing them has never been more important. For this reason, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), an alliance of prominent health charities, professional and research bodies, has produced a Policy Position Paper on Prevention of Musculoskeletal conditions.

The position paper highlights that a transformation is needed so that the care and public health systems go beyond merely tackling musculoskeletal conditions when they arise, to promoting good, lifelong musculoskeletal health. At every age people should be supported to maintain and improve the health of their joints, bones and muscles.

For more information about preventing musculoskeletal conditions, and to get involved in ARMA’s work, please get in touch via and Twitter @WeAreARMA.


In early August, ARMA has published a Policy Position Paper titled:

‘Rationing’ Access to Joint Replacement Surgery and Impact on People with Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions [document opens in pdf]

It deals with the damaging nature of thresholds and scoring tools, the problems of waiting times and restricted access to surgery, and how patients with musculoskeletal conditions are affected.

The Alliance is drawing attention to worrying trends in treatment access and the paper makes clear the key outcomes we are seeking from CCGs and the NHS.

Guest blog by Liz Lingard, NHS RightCare Delivery Partner

Over the past 3 months I have joined the ‘Whole System MSK events’ that ARMA and NHS England have organised as the RightCare speaker. This was an opportunity to clarify the RightCare approach to everyone working across the system and how they can apply this in their local health economies. The core aim of RightCare aligns to what each of the ARMA partners aspires to achieve: ensure the right person is able to access the right care in the right place at the right time, making the best use of available resources to help deliver a sustainable NHS. Identifying unwarranted variation and a greater focus on population health is now central to many of the national programmes. It is only when you review population data across a whole pathway of care that you are able to begin to understand variation of risk factors, prevalence of conditions, healthcare utilisation and outcomes of care. Identifying where there are the greatest potential opportunities for improvement is just the first step and further investigation is required to triangulate high level RightCare data (indicative data) with other national provider and local data sources alongside qualitative information from patients and providers (evidential data).

Before working as a RightCare Delivery partner, I was a Public Health epidemiologist who believed that ‘data was beautiful’ and using measurement for improvement was the key to success. Nick Milton wrote that ‘social connection and discussion is 14 times more effective than written word, best practice guidance, databases and toolkits’. So while I continue to work with the RightCare Intelligence Team to provide a better narrative around the data we produce, I am increasingly convinced that the face-to-face narrative we have at a local level between providers, commissioners and patients is the real key for making transformational change that is sustainable happen.

As a RightCare Delivery Partner working with CCGs, I know the enormous pressures they are under to make financial savings and how healthcare providers across all sectors are concerned about what this will mean for their services and patient care. I also know that in some local health economies there has been some really innovative transformational work. There was strong clinical leadership with engagement from all provider organisations working alongside CCGs and local authorities to optimally design pathways of care and ensure that these pathways were implemented in year.

Al Mulley recently reminded me of the story of the Fosbury Flop. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, after years of high jumpers making incremental improvements to their jumps, Dick Fosbury dramatically increased the heights that could be reached. He used a different technique that then became the dominant style and is still used today. No one had tried it because it sounded so wrong; it turned out to be the right thing to do. We are at a Fosbury Flop moment for MSK care where we can no longer make incremental improvements. So I encourage everyone to connect with the MSK work happening in their local networks and be part of the discussion to transform pathways of care that will reach new heights.

New research conducted by National Voices and Social Enterprise UK has found that only 13% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) can clearly show that they are actively committed to pursuing social value in their procurement and commissioning decisions.

The Public Services (Social Value Act) 2012 requires commissioners to consider broader social, economic and environmental benefits to their area when making commissioning decisions. The Act was a response to the risk of competitive tendering focusing solely on cost at the expense of other forms of value. Consideration of broader social value when making commissioning decisions is vital to ensuring that the public pound is used as effectively as possible.

Download the full research findings.


In May 2017, BSR and the RCGP have launched a joint Quality Improvement project to improve care for people living with inflammatory arthritis. The joint project will deliver a suite of online resources to help improve pathways between primary and secondary care, with a focus on reducing delays to diagnosis and creating standardised, shared care agreements. The recent National Clinical Audit for rheumatoid and early inflammatory arthritis revealed delays in referral from primary care to specialist treatment for people with suspected inflammatory arthritis, with only 17% of cases being referred within the three days recommended by NICE. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to prevent joint and organ damage and reduce potential disability.

Furthermore, once people are established on a treatment plan, their care is shared between primary and specialist care through joint agreements on prescribing and monitoring of high-risk drugs such as Methotrexate.  These shared care agreements are numerous and vary from locality to locality; there is therefore an opportunity to reduce risk by standardising and streamlining these agreements.

This one-year initiative will be led by the newly appointed RCGP Clinical Champion for Inflammatory Arthritis, Dr Danny Murphy, a GP principal in Devon with a special interest in rheumatology, who also works as a part-time staff-grade rheumatologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. In addition to various research projects in rheumatology, Danny has also advised on the development of the recent BSR guideline on Biologics for the Treatment of Axial Spondyloarthritis.

Inflammatory arthritis affects close to a million people in the UK and includes conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Axial Spondyloarthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis. This project, in conjunction with the ongoing work through the national audit, will make a significant impact on care for people living with these conditions.


Commenting on the collaboration, BSR President, Dr Peter Lanyon, said:

“This new collaboration between BSR and the RCGP is a really important strategic initiative, aiming to improve the care pathways for people who live with inflammatory arthritis. We greatly welcome the appointment of Dr Murphy as the first ever RCGP Clinical Champion for Inflammatory Arthritis. This will undoubtedly raise awareness of these conditions across the RCGP membership and beyond. It’s a great opportunity for clinicians in primary and secondary care to work more closely together to develop national solutions to help reduce delays to diagnosis and deliver better co-ordinated care.

This is a view echoed by Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, who stated:

“We’re delighted that the College is partnering with the BSR to raise awareness of this important clinical area in general practice. This collaborative project aims to support our members and their practice teams in the identification and appropriate management for patients living with Inflammatory Arthritis throughout the UK. I look forward to being involved in this project, and following its progress and the impact it has on GPs, our teams and our patients.”

Expressing his honour at being appointed, Dr Danny Murphy, the new Clinical Champion remarked, “I am very proud to be the RCGP’s first Clinical Champion for Inflammatory Arthritis, and am looking forward to working closely with the RCGP and BSR over the next year. Our aim for this project is to empower primary care practitioners to deliver the best possible care to patients with Inflammatory Arthritis, by focusing on eLearning, curriculum updates and engagement with commissioners.”