Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions affect bones, joints, muscles, and spine, as well as rarer autoimmune conditions. In addition to causing pain and disability, MSK conditions affect general physical health and interfere with people’s ability to carry out their normal activities.

With an ageing population, MSK is also a growing problem. In the East of England region, 18% of people report a long-term MSK problem.

The pandemic has created issues with growing inequalities of access to MSK services, increased waiting times and in many cases, increasing levels of complexity, thus widening health inequalities. However, the pandemic has also resulted in new ways of working, increasing collaboration and communication across primary, community and secondary care.

To take advantage of these opportunities, the NHS in the East of England region is developing a new MSK Clinical Network to drive forward improvements in the access to and delivery of MSK services.

The East of England MSK Clinical Network aims to:

  • strengthen MSK leadership to facilitate system level engagement, improvement and transformation
  • undertake a gap analysis of MSK provision compared to need which includes identifying and addressing inequalities
  • ensure we have the appropriate workforce required to meet MSK needs
  • drive improvements in the utilisation and quality of data including collection of outcomes
  • support the development of end-to-end integrated MSK pathways encompassing physical health and mental health for the whole East of England population
  • develop and drive implementation of digital enablers to support MSK delivery
  • reduce unwarranted variation and identify and share best practice
  • develop and drive implementation of best evidence, guidance and policy
  • identify risks and opportunities and oversee action planning
  • ensure an integrated approach to commissioning.

Membership of the network will be open to a wide range of people who are interested in MSK, to ensure a broader approach and achieve meaningful improvements to services. Members will include commissioners, specialist MSK providers, people using MSK services and consultants in orthopaedics, geriatrics, rheumatology, sport and exercise, and sports rehabilitation.

If you have an interest in MSK services either as a user, a provider or a commissioner, and wish to join the new network or attend the first meeting, please email