We often talk about MSK being a big and complex organisation, even if that’s more hidden these days by so many of us working from home and elsewhere most of the time. To give a bit of a sense of scale and context to this year I thought I would try to demonstrate this with some stats. Who doesn’t love stats?


Since 1st January this year until yesterday, the winter solstice, we have:

  • Received and triaged over 52k referrals


Within the community service we have:

  • Booked and completed over 76k appointments and written and sent over 58k clinic letters after those appointments
  • Supported patients through 8k community diagnostic tests and results
  • From triage and appointments, we have made over 42k onward referrals, making sure getting patients to where they will best be served
  • You know those 52k referrals and 76k appointments I mentioned? From those we had 37 complaints. 37 …40% of which were deescalated with a conversation.
  • We have a really low bar for incident reporting, and even with this we had an incident rate of 0.004%.
  • We have extended our provision of First Contract Practitioners (FCP), delivering services to 52 practices, across 13 PCNs and have provided somewhere in the region of 13k additional hours of advanced clinical capacity to primary care. to support them to see the 1 in 5 of GP appointment which relates to an MSK conditions.
  • As well as being the provider of the community service, we are also the commissioner for MSK care across the care pathway, this means we are responsible for making sure that we spend c.£49m of taxpayers’ money wisely. Yeah, £49m!
  • So, in addition to what we have delivered ourselves, we have commissioned and overseen the performance of over 88k outpatient appointments and 8k surgeries and procedures.
  • Our model has proven to work, we continue to send less patients to secondary care and instead support them within the community or indeed to manage their own care. Pre-pandemic we had worked with providers to reduce patients waiting for treatment for 52 weeks or more to zero, this rose sharply as a result of the pandemic but since January this has reduced by over 40%.
  • We have provided over 10,000 hours of capacity into the wider NHS system through redeploying our MSK teams to where it was needed most: for vaccinations, to wards, to support patients to rehabilitate from long Covid. MSK colleagues have offered hundreds of hours to support the vaccination efforts on top of their already relentless workloads, and continue to do so, today, right now.
  • This year we have also negotiated our contract extension, which in no small part was made easy by our proven track record of amazing performance, the system looks to us as exemplars of MSK care. This included de-risking the finances of the contract, which sounds boring but in summary, means that we saved Here & SCFT potentially millions of pounds not to mention myself many sleepless nights, I count that as a double win!
  • We have restructured the senior and clinical leadership of the service in the face of several colleagues leaving, these losses felt hard, and some continue to. The resilience that has been shown in the face of this has been remarkable, teams coming together and work through this change.
  • We have done all of this to steady the ship and continue to deliver on our promises, but we haven’t stopped there. Our pursuit to improve what we deliver have been unyielding. We have launched new papers and research at international conferences. Delivered numerous projects working alongside colleagues across the organisation. We have worked to reduce health inequalities, supporting those patients we know have poorer health outcomes as a result of whether they live, the ethnic background or their life circumstances. We have pivoted our service model, it feels like about 27 times, rolled out initiatives like collaborative triage calls to really understand what matters most to patients as soon as we receive their referral, we’ve put in place new dictation software, 4:1 clinic models, reinstated face to face care safely the list goes on and on. The system now comes to us to acknowledgement of our unique skills and proactivity. We are currently holding 2 ICS projects on supporting patients to wait well through personalised care and measure patient outcomes and experience.
  • We have given 700 hours of our capacity to shape the ICS programme of pan-Sussex MSK redesign. Through this, we have exerted game-changing influence on how the system creates MSK health for the people of Sussex for years to come. Our patient partners have been heralded in this work.
HERE, Care Unbound ltd, Practice Unbound, NHS, portraits, work, Brighton, 2019

The biggest number of all

So when the days are darkest I just wanted to shine a light on all of the achievements which have been realised in MSK. That’s without the context of a completely bonkers year when planning has been essentially impossible. So finally, and utterly cheesily, onto a final and seemingly unquantifiable number: my gratitude for all those colleagues so have been part of MSK in some way this year.

Thank you.

tagged in Enabling Team

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