Coming soon: new CSP MSK physiotherapy service standards and audit tool

The CSP has embarked on an exciting project to create service standards and an audit tool for musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy services. 


Developed with the help of an expert working group involvement and a forthcoming stakeholder consultation, the finalised standards and audit tool will help to: 

  • support physiotherapists to evaluate and demonstrate the quality of their practice and service
  • empower physiotherapists to identify and address areas for personal CPD and service improvement
  • provide key decision makers, patients and the public with information about what high quality MSK physiotherapy means, supporting them to make informed choices about the services they access or commission
  • raise awareness of the evidence for MSK physiotherapy.

Sue Hayward Giles, CSP assistant director of practice and development, said: ‘The new standards and audit tool will take an innovative approach by applying well-established evidence for individual conditions in a way that’s relevant to all areas of MSK physiotherapy. 

‘These resources will focus on aspects that members can influence at an individual or service level, supporting them to identify tangible solutions to improve their practice and services.’

Tackling variation in the quality of MSK services

Following the publication of the NIHR Moving Forward themed review, which provides an overview of NIHR research focussed on physiotherapy for musculoskeletal health and wellbeing, a CSP steering group was set up to develop approaches to disseminate the review and implement the findings into physiotherapy practice.  

The steering group identified a need to address unwarranted variation in the quality of MSK services and lack of data collection regarding service quality. 

To address this, it was agreed to develop a set of evidence-based standards, with recommended metrics, and an audit tool for MSK physiotherapy services, with a view to drive up the quality of MSK physiotherapy throughout the entire MSK pathway. 

Feedback and get involved

The project is being funded by the CSP Charitable Trust and is being supported by a working group consisting of MSK researchers, service managers and clinical leads, a patient and public representative, and CSP research and professional advisers.
Stakeholders for all key audiences will be consulted at each stage of the project and CSP members will also have the opportunity to give feedback on the draft standards, metrics and audit tool later this summer. 
Email to express your interest in shaping the project.   

Annette Bishop, a research physiotherapist and honorary senior research Fellow at the School of Primary, Community and Social Care at Keele University, has been commissioned to lead the development of the standards and the audit tool. 

She told Frontline: ‘I am delighted to be involved in this really exciting project to develop standards for MSK care for the first time.

‘The standards and audit tool will provide organisations, clinicians, patients and commissioners with standards of care which should be met for MSK care in the UK and measure markers of good practice.’

Enabling services to demonstrate their effectiveness

The standards, metrics, audit tool and all supporting resources will identify consistent recommendations of relevance for all MSK conditions, based on rigorously developed national guidance and similarly accredited evidence for specific MSK conditions. 

A similar approach has been used to identify consistent recommendations for all MSK conditions from high-quality clinical guidelines for individual MSK conditions and inform best practice care for patients with MSK pain (Lin et al, 2019).  

Commenting on the project, Nick Livadas, a working group member, clinician and senior lecturer at Teesside University, said: ‘While individualised patient care is paramount, these standards will offer members a reference of what clinical excellence should look like and enable services to evaluate this with the audit tool to compliment the standards.’

‘This project once completed will enable individual clinicians and teams to demonstrate the effectiveness of their service to patients, commissioners and the general public.’

Meanwhile, Dave Green, a patient and public representative on the working group, explained how the standards would benefit both patients and clinicians. 

‘As a patient advisor to a number of research teams and an MSK patient, I believe supporting physiotherapists to evaluate their own practice and employing the best cutting edge research can improve not only the patient experience but lead to a new generation of highly skilled practitioners.’

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