The Future of Sport and Exercise Medicine in Scotland

Position Statement

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK sees a clear need for the creation of Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) posts and services in NHS Scotland. The expertise in NHS Scotland of specialists skilled in Exercise Medicine would support the implementation of the Scottish National Physical Activity Pathway and avoid the depletion of Scotland’s Sport and Exercise Medicine skills base.  Exercise Medicine has a large scale application in improving the health of the general public and in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases through exercise advice and prescription.

There are currently no dedicated exercise medicine based consultant posts within the NHS for the general population of Scotland.  Such services could be used, very cost effectively, to vastly improve common musculoskeletal disorders and in the prevention and treatment of common diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

There are currently only two Sport and Exercise Medicine NHS clinics in Scotland, including the Dundee Sports Medic Clinic and the NHS Sports clinic at Airthrey Park Medical Centre Stirling University, supporting the unique skills sport and exercise medicine can apply.

The Faculty is targeting Scottish Health Boards with a new document called A Fresh Approach in Practice. The document outlines the benefits SEM services can bring to the NHS, with practical examples of how commissioning new SEM services can positively improve health and health economies.

The FSEM’s Scottish Fellows and Members are currently working in a range of posts across Scotland with 36% of them working in General Practice, 30% working in other, Secondary Care, medical specialties and 23% working with sporting organisations*. With the majority of Scotland’s trained specialists in SEM already working in Primary and Secondary Care, there is an opportunity for the NHS to expand exercise medicine services and use this unique skills base for the broader application of exercise medicine in Scotland:

  • Creating specialist Sport and Exercise Medicine consultant posts to work with Health Boards and Local Authorities to increase physical activity in Scotland
  • Encouraging the application of and training in Exercise Medicine for General Practitioners
  • Applying SEM services in treating musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, cancer and other common non-communicable diseases

How do Scottish Doctors become SEM Doctors or Consultants?

Scottish Doctors can work towards the FSEM (UK) Membership Exam Diploma in order to gain Membership and recognition for skills in SEM.  Consultants in SEM complete 4 years of higher specialty training (HST) including the FSEM Membership Exam.  Consultants in SEM are trained in the 6 years of STA training, but at present these training posts do not exist in Scotland and Scottish Doctors wishing to become SEM Consultants have to complete HST in England.

A trainee SEM Consultant in Scotland would currently have to complete their training in England where there are SEM NHS Consultants.  Very little opportunity currently exists for SEM graduates to gain positions in Scotland, which is leading to a skills drain.  The FSEM would like to see Scotland keep its Scottish Sport and Exercise Medicine specialists and develop the specialty within the NHS for the future health of the nation.

*Source Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK Members & Fellows data 2014

©Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK, reviewed August 2017 (to be reviewed August 2020).

Terms of Use

Position statements published by the FSEM (UK) are quick reference or information documents for the Sport and Exercise Medicine and healthcare community. They can include up to ten short points of clinical relevance and are designed to be useful short reference documents.

The FSEM (UK) will publish updates to its official position statements as and when new information is available. The current versions will appear on the website, including the date published, and will supersede and replace prior versions. FSEM UK does not circulate or endorse out of date versions of its position statements.

Our position statements are freely available to the medical and healthcare profession and are subject to copyright, if you plan to use or share them, please ensure you include an up to date version of the statement and credit the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK.