New data from The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) shows the impact NHS waiting lists are having on patients with musculoskeletal issues (MSK).
MSK conditions impact joints, bones and muscles and sometimes associated tissue, such as nerves. According to the NHS, over 20 million people in the UK have an MSK condition, such as arthritis or back pain, and they account for up to 30% of GP consultations in England.
New findings from the BCA, have reported that 56% of British people feel put off seeing their GP because of NHS waiting list times. As consequence, 48% of British people are using over-the-counter (OTC) medication to treat their MSK issues.
While OTC medication has its place in helping patients to resume physical activity, these medications are best used in the short term. Along with side effects, they do little to address potential functional issues which have led to the MSK condition.
The research also found that:
● A third of British people (33%) haven’t seen a GP to treat their MSK issue as they struggled to get an appointment
● Nearly half of British people (43%) have avoided seeing their GP when dealing with an MSK health issue
● Over half (53%) of British people are considering turning to private healthcare for MSK help manage pain
● 38% of British people thought their MSK issue would go away on its own, without seeing a GP
● Over half (52%) of British people have lived with an MSK issue for longer than 12 months.
The research, conducted with OnePoll and the BCA, surveyed 5,000 people across the UK to understand the impact NHS waiting lists are having on MSK health.
Chiropractors can provide those suffering with MSK conditions an alternative solution, giving patients choice when faced with long waiting lists.
They offer patients a wide-ranging package of care which is patient-centred, supported by evidence and results in great patient reported outcomes.
More people are turning to chiropractors to manage poor mobility, pain and wider health concerns arising from MSK issues before they worsen.
Following the findings, the BCA is showcasing how chiropractors are an integral part of UK healthcare, supporting the NHS as part of an integrated system.
By giving patients proactive options and choice, chiropractors are well placed to help relieve the strain on the NHS.
The BCA is championing greater patient choice, improving patient experience, and avoiding MSK issues developing into chronic conditions due to a lack of physical activity and further impacting the NHS later down the line.
Ian Palmer, 52, from Wiltshire, started feeling discomfort in early January 2023, which quickly developed into severe pain in his neck, shoulder and arm, leaving him unable to carry out any normal function or continue to work and turned any hope of sleep into a nightmare.
Exhausted and in pain, Ian’s mental health declined. He turned to his GP, but was not able to be seen for almost four weeks, with even longer waiting times for an MRI scan.
Eager to decrease the level of pain he was experiencing while waiting for further assessment through the NHS, Ian sought out local chiropractor and BCA member, Philippa Oakley (pictured above). Working with Ian to understand his issue, Philippa developed a personalised treatment plan which included twice weekly sessions and an exercise routine which have not only helped Ian physically, but also mentally.
Philippa was also able to write to Ian’s GP, organise a private MRI scan and send this on to the orthopaedic specialist at his local hospital, while offering an immediate solution to manage his symptoms.
Speaking about his experience, Ian said: “Philippa has been so supportive and helpful to both myself and my wife, helping me with hands-on treatment to relieve my symptoms.”
Speaking about the subject, Philippa said: “I believe chiropractic has gone far beyond its previous position as a complementary alternative healthcare and is rapidly becoming mainstream healthcare.
“As a member of the British Chiropractic Association, we are dedicated to providing evidence-informed and patient-centred care, similar to our NHS counterparts. It has been a privilege to help Ian on the road to recovery and help him with the care he needed.”
Cait Allen, chief executive officer at The British Chiropractic Association, added: “These findings identify how there is a significant opportunity for more patients to consider chiropractic as a credible option.
“Chiropractors are regulated healthcare professionals and patients can feel confident that this protected title guarantees high standards of education and continued professional development.
“We’re seeing more people turn to the private sector to alleviate pressures on NHS primary care services.
Ultimately, the private sector has an important role to play in providing patients with this choice, particularly when the NHS is suffering with extended GP waiting lists.
“It is encouraging to see an increasing number of GPs and FCPs suggesting that patients seek care privately for these common MSK complaints.
“Over 30 million working days are lost due to MSK conditions every year in the UK. Integrated healthcare is essential to ensure more people receive treatment, and both the economy and NHS are better supported.”