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FSEM Responds to A&E Limitations

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09 Oct 2013


In response to the report ‘Stretched to the Limit’ by the College of Emergency Medicine, The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine releases key findings from its own fellows and members survey Delivery of Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) in the NHS and calls on NHS Commissioners to consider the specialty to assist in solving some of the immediate pressures in the NHS.


The Faculty commissioned the survey to look into existing NHS SEM pathways in recognition of the fact that SEM has a key role to play in reducing the future demands on healthcare, including A&E departments, through investment in the important component of the speciality in Exercise Medicine. The survey reveals that there is currently very little SEM provision in the NHS. The potential of SEM is yet to be fully recognised or utilised by most NHS commissioners.


Dr Graeme Wilkes, Fellow of the Faculty and Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine comments:

"The results show there is a very skilled workforce developing within Sport and Exercise Medicine with potential to address some of the current issues in musculoskeletal medicine, a key aspect of Emergency Department presentations.

"Sport and Exercise Medicine Consultants and GPs with a Special Interest in Sport and Exercise Medicine could be co-ordinating pre -hospital care of musculoskeletal problems and relieving the demand on emergency departments now. There are already examples of such activity and very favourable results involving Sport and Exercise Medicine."


The Newcastle West Pilot Study is one example of how SEM can relieve the pressure on the NHS.


SEM as a speciality is currently not exposed to the demands on the other musculoskeletal specialities of Rheumatology and Orthopaedics. The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine would like more NHS Commissioners to consider the role of the speciality of SEM in solving some immediate NHS problems.


There is also a need for the NHS to invest in co-ordinated programmes of physical activity, for which there is a strong evidence base.  As suggested by the Kings Fund analysis of A&E waiting times, the solution to the problem is in the whole system and Sport and Exercise Medicine should be considered as a key component if this is to be realised.


The Faculty of Sport & Exercise Medicine’s main findings on the current provision of Sport and Exercise Medicine services in the NHS:

  • The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine has a membership mainly working outside the NHS in team care 71% or private clinics 53%
  • 57% of members surveyed currently provide an SEM service to the NHS. However members who do work with the NHS are dedicating a small part of their working week to the NHS with 50% working only 1-2 sessions per week
  • Only 1% of members surveyed are working in Emergency Medicine (Musculoskeletal)
  • 6% of members surveyed are working in Orthopaedics
  • 4% of members surveyed are working in Rheumatology
  • Hospitals are currently the main SEM NHS employers
  • In future, SEM services for the NHS are best sited in the community

For further information please visit the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine website or contact enquiries@fsem.ac.uk

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