This is a category taken from the full feed of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis news provided by ARMA's members.


State of Health reportState of health and care: The NHS Long Term Plan after COVID-19

A new report from IPPR shows the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted progress on the NHS Long Term Plan. The report looks at cancer, mental illness, cardiovascular disease and multiple long term conditions, but the findings are equally relevant to MSK services.

The report argues that COVID-19 should not become an excuse for low ambition, and that world-class healthcare must remain the overall goal. To achieve this, the report recommends a package of six ambitious changes designed to do three things:

  • Ensure the pandemic does not cause lasting damage to healthcare services for future generations.
  • Bring in areas – like social care and public health – that are not covered in The NHS Long Term Plan, but which are integral to healthcare.
  • To capture the innovations that occurred during the pandemic.

The six recommendations are:

  1. Ensure a sustainable workforce: a new deal to catalyse recruitment and retention – including a pay rise, a new wellbeing offer, and improved training and progression.
  2. Fund the NHS to deliver and sustain transformation: funding to meet the elective care backlog and rise in mental illness to avoid a trade-off between transformation and the pandemic care backlog.
  3. Empower integration from the bottom up: through system focussed regulation, reformed financial incentives and permissive legislation.
  4. Upgrade the digital NHS: providing internet access as a basic public service, understanding patient preferences and investing in the NHS’s digital infrastructure.
  5. Fund and reform social care: including free personal care for everyone aged 65 and over, improving the quality of social care, better pay for care workers, and immigration rules that do not lead to catastrophic shortages.
  6. Level up the nation’s health: a public health cabinet committee to co-ordinate policy functions across Whitehall, and greater devolution of funding and powers to local government to tackle the primary determinants of health.

Read the full report on

The Quality in Osteopathic Practice report collates information on patient experience, evidence, impact, training and regulation of osteopathic practice in the UK.

It provides a concise and evidence-informed view of the profession and how osteopaths can potentially support wider health and social care services across the UK.

Read more here on the iO website.

The launch of NHS England’s Best MSK Health programme gives the population’s musculoskeletal health in England a focus and priority like never before, and much needed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NHS England waiting times data shows people with serious MSK conditions needing diagnosis and treatment by rheumatology and elective care services are waiting much longer. The same is true for community MSK services and treatment. At the other end of the spectrum, for people who previously had no long-term conditions, the lockdown effect on mental well-being, exercise and weight-gain are significant obstacles to their musculoskeletal health now and into the future. All of these challenges can impact long-term health and employment.

[Click image to expand view of full chart in PDF]

Diverse and dynamic workforce is key

A multidisciplinary, diverse and dynamic NHS workforce will be key to supporting people to good musculoskeletal health especially in an era when COVID-19 fast-tracked collaboration, working with and across boundaries and along pathways based upon the needs of the person. As NHS national and local, place-based, systems seek to address population needs for musculoskeletal services, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) ‘Workforce planning chart for MSK’ aims to support workforce planning by setting out the breadth of healthcare professionals specialising in musculoskeletal health and available to support musculoskeletal services.

This will be key in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the opportunities that the new NHS Best MSK Health programme offers, along with NHS reforms outlined in the Government’s recent White Paper: Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all, which supports wider integration and breaking down barriers.

Planning the workforce, having the right people with the right skills, in the right place at the right time is vital to enabling delivery of musculoskeletal health and care services.

Access the Workforce planning chart for MSK.

Public Health England are launching the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign to support the nation’s mental wellbeing with the encouragement that “When things aren’t so good out there, make inside feel better”. Aimed at adults, but weighted towards those most at risk of mental health problems, this “Make Inside Feel Better” 2021 phase of the campaign will run across across PR, radio, social and digital. The key message will be to encourage people to create a free NHS-approved ‘Mind Plan’.

The partner resources will include a range of materials that will direct to the Mind Plan tool and drive to Every Mind Matters content on NHS.UK.

  • Social media animations including a social toolkit
  • Social statics
  • Embedding instructions for the Mind Plan tool
  • Web banners
  • Radio

The campaign is being supported by the NHS, local authorities and a range of mental health charities, health organisations as well as other charities and commercial sector partners.

The Every Mind Matters platform has been continuously updated to support people during the COVID-19 outbreak, and has a COVID-19 hub that includes tips and support on how to deal with change, cope with money worries and job uncertainty and how to look after your mental wellbeing while staying at home. It also includes practical tips and videos from experts on dealing with stress and anxiety, boosting your mood, sleeping better and what you can do to help others – including advice for parents and for children and young people

ARMA continues to keep our COVID-19 resources page up to date. There have been some new resources added in recent weeks and others have become more relevant as the pressure on the NHS increases. Here are some of the key resources to be aware of:-

Urgent and Emergency Musculoskeletal Conditions Requiring Onward Referral

The guidance supports primary and community care practitioners in recognising serious pathology which requires emergency or urgent referral to secondary care in a patient who presents with new or worsening MSK symptoms.

Vaccination resources

Principles for COVID-19 Vaccination in Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology for Clinicians – answering some of the questions patients are asking about treatment when they have their vaccination.

Shared decision making tool to support decisions when people have their vaccine

Steroid guidance

Clinical guide during the COVID-19 pandemic for the management of patients with musculoskeletal and rheumatic conditions who are:

  • already taking corticosteroids, or
  • require initiation of oral/IV corticosteroids, or
  • require an intra-articular or intra-muscular corticosteroid injection

People whose treatment has been delayed

Guidance and supporting documents to help deliver personalised, patient-centred communications to patients who are waiting for care.

MSK self management resources – Managing your bone, joint or muscle pain


A range of other resources are linked from the ARMA COVID-19 resources page.

by Sue Brown, CEO ARMA

Here we are back in lockdown, with the NHS under even more pressure and MSK services severely impacted. COVID-19 response is still dominating the work of ARMA, although we are also progressing plans for other work in 2021. There are some different issues for MSK this time around, and vaccination currently dominates our work. When some people with MSK conditions are vaccinated, the timings of MSK treatment may need to be considered.

I am delighted that ARMA can host a document setting out the principles for these timing decisions. It’s a webpage, not a download, as we are keeping it regularly updated as evidence and advice changes. Keep referring back to our site to ensure you are using the most up-to-date information.

Many people have had appointments and treatment cancelled, both in hospital and in community services. It is important that people receive good communication in this situation, including some indication of what to do while they wait. These recently published resources around patient communication were designed for hospital treatment but I think equally applicable for community services. Everyone understands the need for the NHS to respond to the pandemic. But they are also waiting, in pain, and they need to know when the NHS will be able to see them again.

ARMA continues to bring our members together to share intelligence and information about the impact of the pandemic on people with MSK conditions. We continue to bring this information into the way NHS England, with MSK stakeholders, is responding to the crisis. We continue to bring together all the important resources for MSK in relation to the pandemic onto one page on our website. This collaboration has given people with MSK conditions a voice in the face of very challenging times. This collaboration is growing; most recently Physio First has decided to join us and become part of this powerful voice for MSK.

We will continue work in this way to support the response to the pandemic for as long as it is needed. I look forward to a time when we can focus this voice on the challenge of building excellent MSK services after COVID without the risk of another surge, another lockdown. A time when the collaboration between NHS England, ARMA and many other MSK stakeholders can be directed at improving MSK services. As Clare Jacklin of NRAS says in her excellent blog, (do read it), I don’t want to go back, I want to look forward.

I want us all to look forward together.

Public Health England

Inclusion Health: applying All Our Health

Published 11 January 2021

Published by Public Health England, this guide is part of ‘All Our Health’, a resource that helps health and care professionals prevent ill health and promote wellbeing as part of their everyday practice. The information below will help front-line health and care staff use their trusted relationships with individuals, families and communities to take action on inclusion health.

‘Inclusion health’ is a catch-all term used to describe people who are socially excluded, typically experience multiple overlapping risk factors for poor health (such as poverty, violence and complex trauma), experience stigma and discrimination, and are not consistently accounted for in electronic records (such as healthcare databases). These experiences frequently lead to barriers in access to healthcare and extremely poor health outcomes.

The guide contains practical recommendations for action by healthcare practitioners, team managers and strategic leaders.

by Ehlers-Danlos Support UK

We were very disappointed to be told just before Christmas that the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) wanted to withdraw the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) toolkit for GPs. The College planned to remove the toolkit from the RCGP website at the end of January. The RCGP cited pressure on its limited resources as a result of the pandemic and contention around the toolkit from various sources as reasons for its decision. While we understood that the College wanted to prioritise use of its resources, the move would have been a huge backwards step for people with EDS and related conditions. However, following a letter from medical professionals and a petition from patients, we are very pleased that the RCGP has agreed to host the EDS GP toolkit for another six months.

Following its launch in May 2018, the toolkit was accessed in its initial few months by more people than for any other preceding toolkit: over 24,000 from nearly 40 countries across five continents in the first four months alone; and since then, by around 2,000 unique visitors per month.

The Ehlers-Danlos Support UK funded the development of the toolkit and worked in collaboration with the RCGP, Dr Emma Reinhold, and a group of other clinicians and scientists on this important project.

We are pleased the College reconsidered its decision. Ehlers-Danlos Support UK put out a call for examples of the impact that the toolkit has made, and received almost 70 submissions within the first 12 hours. We are working with medical professionals and colleagues in other organisations to facilitate a review of the toolkit.