Strategy Update: One Year On

By Dr Natasha Jones, President FSEM, 24 Jan, 2023 | 6 min read

At the end of her first year in office, FSEM UK President Dr Natasha Jones reflects on progress made towards achieving our strategic objectives.

Just over a year ago, we unveiled our Strategy 22-25 and set forth a series of ambitious goals designed to unite our specialty, grow our organisation, and support our members. Earlier this month, at the end of my first full year as President, I sat down with Faculty leadership to evaluate our progress towards those goals.

As an organisation we have taken some far-reaching steps over the past twelve months, and I am very proud of the progress we have made. You will have already read about much of this work in our regular communications throughout the past year, but I believe it is important to consider these achievements in relation to our overall goals and see how they fit into the bigger picture.

Below, I will look at the three main objectives we set out in our 22-25 Strategy – to develop and demonstrate the value of Exercise and Musculoskeletal Medicine in the NHS, to support practitioners working in Elite Sport, and to develop FSEM as a collaborative, multi-disciplinary organisation, capable of uniting the specialty – and discuss some of the work we have undertaken in each area.

Develop and Demonstrate Value
We reached a major milestone in this area earlier this year with the completion of a Workforce Planning report that demonstrates the value of SEM consultants in the delivery of MSK and exercise medicine in the NHS. This report will be shared with NHS leaders as part of a major ongoing consultation and will be published in full in the coming weeks.

As part of this workstream, we are also keen to showcase the role of SEM consultants and FSEM within the multi-disciplinary team. We’ve been able to do this in large part because of the success of our MSK Diploma and the thriving community of Diplomate Members it has brought to our organisation.

Building on this success, we are in the process of developing another diploma exam in physical activity and health. We hope this will not only help us to expand our Diplomate membership, but also help cement our place as a leading voice in the physical activity medicine landscape.

We’ve also been working closely with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) on developing accreditation for GPs with an extended role (GPwERs) in MSK medicine. This has led to the creation of a career pathway and standardised curriculum for GPwERs, and continues as we look for ways to better support clinicians to access quality education. We will be piloting our new accreditation pathway in 2023.

The success of our Moving Medicine initiative over the past year has helped position us as leaders in the field of exercise medicine provision. Our contract with OHID has now been completed, generating significant revenue for the project and allowing us the opportunity to develop in new directions. Our place-based approach to service provision has now been rolled out across four separate locations and has proved extremely popular. A new 2023-25 Strategy for the project has been agreed that will bring our Moving Medicine resources to more clinicians than ever and take the project from strength to strength.

Support Elite Sport Practitioners
Last year we commissioned a major external review of the challenges currently facing those who work in elite sport. The review has now been completed and has identified a number of areas where FSEM can get involved to help improve support for elite sport practitioners. We have combined that information with data from consultations with our members and with BASEM members and are working on the next steps. We’ll be sharing full details of this review in the near future, along with information on the measures we propose to take to address the issues identified in the report.

Part of that external review involved initiating dialogue with leaders in the field, and we have sought to continue our collaboration with sporting governing bodies through participation in the CMOs group for elite sport. The success of any solutions we hope to implement will depend heavily on support and buy-in from the sports themselves, so we see these links as fundamental to our continuing efforts in this field.

Education will form a key part of those solutions, and we have already made significant progress in this area. We’ve worked with the GMC to create resources around the use of social media in sport, for example, and will continue to develop additional resources. Another potential solution involves the creation of a diploma aimed at practitioners working in sport. This has been agreed in principle, and we have already set up a working group to develop the diploma. We hope to offer the first diet in 2024. Following on from the accreditation process for GPwERs in MSK medicine discussed above, we are also in the early stages of discussions around accreditation for GPwERs working in sport.

We are also pleased to have agreed and secured funding for the first post-CCT Fellowship, which is due to commence in August 2023. This fellowship, in collaboration with Oxford University Hospitals NHS foundation trust and the Rugby Football Union (RFU), will focus on the challenges of medicine in high performing teams while allowing the successful fellow to build high volume MSK experience and networks in the NHS.

Develop FSEM
We recently wrote to inform you that the faculty has secured independent charitable status, and we are on course to complete this transition by April 2023. This is an important first step in our plans to develop FSEM while maintaining strong links with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) who will guide us through observer positions on our board.

It is also a crucial part of our aim to form a college of sport, exercise and musculoskeletal medicine. As you will also be aware, we have been in ongoing discussions with BASEM around this goal and the future of both organisations. The working groups we set up to discuss the potential nature of future collaboration with BASEM have now concluded, and we will be presenting their full reports to members in the next few weeks ahead of a membership vote in the Spring.

We have also looked internally to improve the ways in which we interact with members. We have set up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which will help ensure that we continue to represent all our members, as well as a Communications Committee to help draft a communications strategy to support our aims and help improve the quality of membership communications. We are also able to announce that we have secured a supplier for a new public-facing website and membership database, which we hope to deliver by the end of April 2023 and which should make it easier for members to interact with the faculty.

We’ve been encouraged by the response to our work in this area already. Our Emerging Leaders programme in collaboration with BASEM and RCP is set to begin next week and has generated lots of interest. We’ve also successfully funded and delivered mentor training as part of the Emerging Leaders programme, giving us a trained core of FSEM mentors to draw upon.

I hope you will agree that we have a lot to be proud of. I am constantly humbled by the number of people giving up their time to help us. None of this could have been achieved without their support, and I would like to thank everyone who has volunteered their time to work with us. With your help, I believe we have already taken a number of very positive steps towards achieving our goals. There is much more still to be done. We will be sharing the 23-25 strategy and deliverables in the coming weeks. Watch this space!

Dr Natasha Jones, MB., BS(lond), FFSEM, FRCP

President, Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK