On 8 December 2022, clinical commissioners, healthcare providers and representatives from the leisure and community sectors across the UK, gathered for the virtual ‘ESCAPE-pain together’ conference. The event covered examples of existing programmes, an opportunity to connect with regional professionals and perspectives from the NHS, leisure and non-for-profit partners. Michael Hurley, Clinical Director of ESCAPE-pain acted as MC for the programme’s first online conference since the COVID-19 outbreak. Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK) Chief Executive, Arash Angadji gave an introductory speech, covering the charity’s strategy and role in the ESCAPE-pain programme. We are determined to act as a facilitator, connector, and catalyst to generate meaningful and measurable impact in orthopaedic and musculoskeletal health,” Angadji stated.
ESCAPE-pain together December 2022
”We (ORUK) are determined to act as a facilitator, connector and catalyst to generate meaningful and measurable impact in orthopaedic and musculoskeletal healthArash Andadji, Chief Executive, Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK)
Models for MSK
Musculoskeletal (MSK) National Clinical Director of NHS England, Andrew Bennett, provided an overview of their matrix strategy, aiming to increase priority of MSK, reduce the burden of MSK and embed a preventative population partnership driven approach. Bennett described the overall goal as achieving “lifelong best MSK health for all” through sustainable transformation of MSK provision. “It’s not a programme, it’s collaborative,” said the National Clinical Director. He continued: “It’s about taking the principles across that matrix and making them work for the local population.”
”It’s about taking the principles across that matrix and making them work for the local population.Andrew Bennett, Musculoskeletal (MSK) National Clinical Director, NHS England
Michael Hurley’s presentation also emphasised the importance of empowering individuals, discussing how patient education programmes challenge beliefs about exercise being painful or harmful. He elaborated: “If we can improve people’s confidence in their ability to use exercise to improve their health, then we’ll start to get them to actually self-manage their problems using exercise.”
”If we can improve people’s confidence in their ability to use exercise to improve their health, then we’ll start to get them to actually self-manage their problems using exercise.Michael Hurley, Clinical Director, ESCAPE-pain
Rob Jones, an MSK Physiotherapist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, gave an example of the programme at a local level. Jones described how a key part of the programme’s success was driven by participants. “It’s self-referral and it’s that kind of community interaction that really is driving this change within specific localities,” he said. He later added: “We have health-generating communities that empower each other to live well.”
Leisure centres as MSK hubs
Kenny Butler, Head of Health and Wellbeing at ukactive stressed the importance of the leisure centre as a cost-effective place for rehabilitation and community health. Butler explained: “The ability to exercise locally is fundamental to help stop clogging the hospital beds.” This need for approaches outside hospital-based interventions was mirrored in a case study by Mark Etherton, RightCare Lead Manager of East Riding of Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership. “We wanted a vibrant social environment. We wanted access to more than some rehabilitation in a room in a hospital,” Etherton said.
”The ability to exercise locally is fundamental to help stop clogging the hospital beds.Kenny Butler, Head of Health and Wellbeing, ukactive
Ben Wilkins of GoodBoost spoke about designing MSK hubs in leisure centres, using real-time data, virtual options and opportunities for MSK patients to form communities. Wilkins emphasised the continued need for evaluation and evolution. He shared: “There will be ongoing learning, co-design and focus groups with older adults, leisure professionals, and healthcare professionals, to make sure that how it works and how it looks is fit for purpose.”
Susannah Arrowsmith, Chief Executive of Healthiness Ltd, provided a case study on bridging gaps for older adults who may not have found going to a leisure centre works for them with Liverpool-based ESCAPE-pain programmes. “When the ESCAPE pain programme came along, it just sat within our ethos,” she said, describing how the non-profit health and exercise provider had teamed up with the Health Innovation Network and Sport England to deliver a pilot ESCAPE-pain programme.
The day closed with discussions on collaboration and a Q&A covering the psychological aspects of pain management, securing partner organisations and ways to maintain a high retention rate. Overall, the conference highlighted how holistic approaches combining perspectives from healthcare, fitness, and those living with MSK conditions, can together build more physically active communities that feel more empowered and equip to self-manage MSK conditions.