Across the nations


Pain People Place: the lived experience of chronic musculoskeletal pain in Grampian

Versus Arthritis established the Pain People Place project to create a record of lived experience of people living with chronic MSK pain in Scotland. Although the initial ambition was to focus on a range of localities across Scotland, the pandemic intervened and we were forced to revise the scale, reach and approach of this phase of the project. The NHS Grampian area was chosen as the initial site for the work and the project consultants worked with the Versus Arthritis development staff in the area to identify participants and undertake one-to-one interviews.

Although the original intention had been to focus on the themes of pain, the individual’s experience of pain and the impact of where they lived on managing that pain, the pandemic itself became a key focus, particularly in relation to shielding. Some of the themes to emerge from the interviews were:

  • the importance of informal networks
  • the lack of support for and access to self-management
  • the need to access spaces to walk and exercise, and
  • the need for regular communication with NHS services.

A second phase of the project is currently being planned to focus on health inequalities in relation to the overarching themes of pain, people and place.

The full report is not yet ready to view but for information, contact Alan McGinley, Policy & Engagement Manager,

Movement for Health – A Scottish coalition for physical activity and long-term Conditions

Movement for Health was launched in 2020 and is a forum for organisations in Scotland to collaborate to influence and improve policy and practice which support people with long term conditions to become more physically active. The aim is to create a unified, influential and independent voice for action to improve opportunities for and awareness of the benefits of physical activity and reduce barriers to participation.

It is composed of leading national health charities, including Versus Arthritis, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland along with input and support from a range of national agencies and academic institutions with an interest in health and physical activity.

The coalition has already established a website and is currently working on its policy priorities to engage fully with the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections and beyond.

Website: Movement for Health

Versus Arthritis contact: Alan McGinley, Policy & Engagement Manager,

Northern Ireland

Patient Voice in MSK Education & Service Improvement

In 2020 we began working with university partners to enhance the delivery of Musculoskeletal (MSK) care to the next generation of healthcare professionals (HCPs) as well as practicing HCPs continuing their professional development.

Given the prevalence of MSK conditions and persistent pain, course leaders sought the support of Versus Arthritis to include patient voice in the delivery of their courses. As a result, the volunteer led ‘Patient Voice’ role was developed to share the lived experience of patients with MSK conditions to enhance and enrich the curricula.

Given the COVID-19 restrictions, all our Patient Voice sessions so far have taken place online, where students and practitioners conduct mock consultations, structured conversations and pre-recorded video diaries or interviews with course leads.

The service supports healthcare professionals to understand and empathise with what it is like to have and live with an MSK condition and/or persistent pain, and ultimately improve the service they provide to patients.

‘Prior to this session I hadn’t heard of Versus Arthritis. Although I manage patients with MSK/chronic pain issues daily in primary care, I feel I often struggle to fully appreciate the impact these conditions have on a patient’s life and am aware I probably haven’t been going beyond basic management for many. This area is even more of a struggle at present with the long waiting times for referrals to secondary care for specialist review.’

Partners have so far included QUB School of Medicine (Ulster University School of Pharmacy), QUB School of Pharmacy ST3 GP training in chronic pain, and upcoming Ulster University MSK Physiotherapy.

‘Happy for ANY involvement from you guys - it is the real patient story/message that sticks!’

‘Thank you so much for your contribution to enhancement of the student learning experience here at Ulster University’.

We have reached almost 400 student and practising HCPs since Oct 2020.

The Patient Voice volunteers come from a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds, representing themselves as experts in the impact of their own condition and resulting experiences.

One said, ‘This can be a cathartic process, having the opportunity to tell my story and also remembering how bad times had been in the past and recognising how much better I am now.’

We are also supporting Health and Social Care Trust quality improvement projects to provide a much-needed patient perspective in co-producing potential solutions for patients living with MSK and persistent pain issues.

If you would like to avail of the service for your practising team/students, please contact Anna Lyons / 02890 782940.


Can you help Versus Arthritis deliver its flagship Core Skills in MSK care training programme?

Are you a GP in Wales with interest in MSK conditions and experience of education delivery? Versus Arthritis is looking to recruit a Wales based GP to help deliver its flagship Core Skills in Musculoskeletal Care training programme.

The training has been developed by GPs to help increase knowledge and confidence for any frontline healthcare professionals who support patients with MSK conditions. This is a paid opportunity.

If you would like any further information, please contact: