A Fresh Approach to Improving Patient Outcomes and Reducing Referrals

In the run up to the Commonwealth Games 2014, the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) has launched its second in a series of documents for the NHS as a solution to the significant health problem in the UK caused by physical inactivity*. A Fresh Approach in Practice is aimed at Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Health Boards and Health and Social Care Trusts throughout the UK. The document outlines how effective Exercise Medicine can be in tackling chronic diseases, conditions related to physical inactivity and common musculoskeletal conditions whilst reducing referrals for costly procedures and services.

Rod Jaques, President of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine comments: “The application of Exercise Medicine for the benefit of public health is enormous and the health burden on the NHS of musculoskeletal problems and physical inactivity has reached significant levels. This document is asking the NHS to provide Exercise Medicine services as a solution to the problem and for the long-term benefit of public health. It includes the results of pilot services in surgeries, clinics and hospitals which have successfully used Exercise Medicine services to improve patient outcomes and reduce referrals – something that all NHS commissioners and managers are looking to do.”

Mike Farrar, Independent Management Consultant NHS Confederation, comments in his foreword to the document: “Physical inactivity is now endemic in the UK and we need to look at how we can develop sustainable prevention and treatment models for chronic disease related to inactivity and common musculoskeletal conditions. A Fresh Approach in Practice is a must read for all NHS commissioners.”

Whilst the achievements of the athletes at this year’s Commonwealth Games will be admired by the nation, starting small and working towards reaching and maintaining physical activity at the recommended levels (150 minutes of moderate intensity activity plus muscle strength exercises twice per week) can reduce an individual’s risk for over 22 non-communicable diseases by 20-40%.

Physical inactivity costs the UK economy around £8.2 Billion a year**. Increasing levels of physical activity, via tailored prescription, can inexpensively treat chronic diseases prevent co-morbidity and aid recovery and function and vastly improve quality of life and mental health. Applying the unique skills of a Sport and Exercise Medicine Consultant, specifically for exercise and musculoskeletal medicine, could save the NHS money and cut patient waiting times.


You can view A Fresh Approach in Practice on the Faculty’s website and order a copy directly from the FSEM by emailing

*Source: Weiler R, Jones N et al. NHS Sport and Exercise Medicine: A Fresh Approach

**Source: Combined direct and indirect costs of physical inactivity CMO 2005

Notes to Editors:

  • The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine was launched in 2006 and is an intercollegiate faculty of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • The Faculty has over 550 Members and Fellows, not including medical students
  • There are around 80 Sport and Exercise Medicine Doctors on the GMC specialist register
  • The FSEM not only sets standards in SEM but oversees research, training, curriculum and assessment of SEM Doctors, including providing revalidation services
  • Sport and Exercise Medicine involves the medical care of injury and illness in sport, exercise and the work place. It requires accurate diagnoses, careful clinical examination, experience and knowledge of sport and exercise specific movement patterns. SEM practitioners work in a variety of settings across primary, secondary and tertiary care. The specialty has a large scale application in improving the health of the general public through exercise advice and prescription. Further information about the specialty can be found in the Media & Resources section at


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Email:, Tel: 0131 527 3498, Mobile: 07551903702