Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology

More than one in five GP consultations are for patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) problems, with osteoarthritis (OA) the most common cause of chronic pain and restricted activity in the over 50s. The College has established a range of programmes to focus on musculoskeletal conditions, including two Clinical Priority Programmes (OA and osteoporosis 2009-2011) and launching a new MSK educational programme in 2013 with Versus Arthritis.


Core skills in musculoskeletal care

The RCGP is working together with Versus Arthritis, has developed an educational programme for GPs and AiTs looking to develop core skills in musculoskeletal care. The following training and resources are included in the programme: 

elearning course

The elearning course demonstrates how to approach the MSK patient in primary care and uses clinical examples to demonstrate different aspects of management. This is available for free to RCGP members and non members on the RCGP Online Learning Environment.

Implementation guidance for NICE Quality Standard on Osteoarthritis (QS87)

This article, written by Dr Ian Bernstein, was first published in Clinical News, July 2015.


In the workshops learners work in small groups using clinical cases to practise consultations and focused examination for a wide range of MSK problems. The workshops are practical and fully interactive with an emphasis on a consistent clinical approach, making and explaining the diagnosis and formulating an appropriate management plan.

Impact toolkit

The musculoskeletal toolkit provides suggestions and step-by-step guidance on practical ways for GPs and AiTs to demonstrate the impact of their learning on patient care. Reflection and impact are an essential part of the revalidation process and a positive way to improve care for patients. The toolkit is available on the Versus Arthritis website.

Contact us

For further information and to express interest in running a workshop in your area contact


Versus Arthritis

Versus Arthritis UK have developed a GP Area with resources specifically tailored for GPs and their patients, including information and exercise sheets, high-quality educational resources, awards and training bursaries.

A relationship for life

The Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) held a conference in 2009 which focussed on the relationship between GPs and patients with rheumatoid arthritis – A relationship for life. The abstract and an introductory letter by Dr Graham Davenport (Clinical Champion for Osteoporosis 2009–2011) are available. 

The S Factor campaign

Dr Graham Davenport and Versus Arthritis launched the S factor campaign in 2011. The campaign aimed to encourage patients to approach a healthcare professional if after answering questions on 'stiffness, swelling and squeezing' they thought they might have inflammatory arthritis. 

Useful links

The Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) is the umbrella body providing a collective voice for the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK.

The Primary Care Rheumatology Society is part of the Alliance of Primary Care Societies (APCS). More information can be found on the APCS page. 

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