12 March 2013

RCGP and Arthritis Research UK Launch New e-Learning Module on MSK

Musculoskeletal Care (MSK) is the focus of a new e-learning course launched this week by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in collaboration with the charity Arthritis Research UK.

The module is the latest addition to the RCGP’s rapidly-expanding Online Learning Environment (OLE) and it is free to all healthcare professionals - not just members of the College. It aims to improve GPs’ and GP trainees' core skills in diagnosing and managing MSK conditions.

MSK conditions are the fourth largest area of spending in the NHS. There are 100,000 MSK consultations in England every day with 20% of the UK population consulting a GP with an MSK problem annually.

The comprehensive module - developed for GPs by GPs - includes a number of lessons and assessments using clinical examples to demonstrate different aspects of care for MSK conditions, with advice for users on how to deal with each:

  • Inflammatory Arthritis – long-term condition management and co-morbidity
  • Gout and Polygmyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)
  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – supported self-management and behaviour change
  • Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) – explanation and signposting
  • Common Upper and Lower Limb conditions
  • Spinal conditions – biopsychosocial approach, discussions around work

The module, based on up to date research in the area, takes 4.5 hours and offers CPD credits - essential for revalidation.

The e-learning tool is being accompanied by a pilot series of one-day workshops allowing participants to get to grips with the practical aspects of MSK core skills. Exceptional demand for places has led to these becoming fully booked but feedback will be analysed with the view to hold further workshops later this year. A MSK impact toolkit is also planned.

Arthritis Research UK funded the project as well as helping to develop it, with further contributions from the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre at Keele University.

Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of RCGP, said:

"MSK conditions are notoriously difficult to manage as they don’t fit the neat model of disease-diagnosis-treatment-cure. However, patients with MSK conditions rely on their GP for diagnosis and management of their problem.

"This fantastic resource will benefit GPs and those patients. The fact that it is free for all healthcare professionals emphasises the work the College does to promote continued professional development.

Dr Tom Margham, primary care lead at Arthritis Research UK and a practising GP in East London said:

“Many GPs may not have received any formal MSK training in primary care. We hope that the core skills project will help to increase their confidence levels in managing musculoskeletal conditions, enabling them to deliver better care and treatment to the millions of people living with pain and disability.”


The e-learning module is available through the RCGP's Online Learning Environment

For more information on the work that RCGP is doing on MSK and rheumatology visit the Clinical Innovation and Research Centre section of our website

Anyone who is interested in future MSK workshops run by the RCGP can email Expressions of interest to msk@rcgp.org.uk.

Further Information

RCGP Press office - 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 46,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

Arthritis Research UK is the leading authority on arthritis in the UK, conducting scientific and medical research into all types of arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions. It is the UK’s fourth largest medical research charity and the only charity solely committed to funding high quality research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis.