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Patients praise fast-track arthritis physio programme

 MSK Knee Outreach Programme patient, Joan Lynch is seated and is looking straight at the camera. She is waering a floral scarf. There is physio equipment visible in the background.


“I’m delighted as I am in a much better place physically now,” according to Joan Lynch, who has arthritis, and who recently benefitted from exercise classes as part of an outreach programme designed to fast-track patients who otherwise may experience significant waiting times.

Eavan Lennox, Senior Physiotherapist, Primary Care, North Wicklow, explains that the MSK Knee Outreach Programme is a “collaboration between St Vincent’s University Hospital, clinical physiotherapists, and the community services here in Bray.”

Fast-tracking the process

She explains that “many people with osteoarthritis of the knee were not getting the treatments we knew they should be getting. A lot of people were sitting on our waiting lists, waiting for a surgeon to tell them they needed physiotherapy here in their primary care area. They may then wait up to two years for that appointment and then may wait an additional year to receive the services here. So we decided to try and fast-track the whole process and get them seen here in the community first, getting their first-line core treatments here in group format”.

She added: “And then we have the second strand to the programme too which is absolutely terrific because we can now get these people into St Vincent’s University Hospital if they need to be fast-tracked to see a surgeon within a matter of weeks.”

Very rewarding

For Joan Lynch, the experience has been very rewarding: “I’ve had arthritis since I was 36 and I started with hip replacements at 40. I arrived here and as soon as I came in there was just respect and love and everything else that the girls gave us. By the second time I came they knew our names – I really felt part of something. And then when the exercises began it was great – I loved them.

“The programme was over six weeks, twice a week, Wednesday and Friday between 3 pm and 4 pm.  I didn’t miss a single class. They were terrific people and there was great camaraderie

Sinead O’Sullivan, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist, St Vincent’s University Hospital, further explains that the programme has been “hugely beneficial for patients – they really do seem to enjoy it. And we’re collecting lots of outcome measures which show many benefits.”

She adds: “We are also building a lot of collaborative links between the acute services and primary care services. And we have lots of other ideas on how we can increase collaboration and improve pathways of patient care.”

For client John Gibbons, the engagement he experienced was particularly positive: “I found the classes very good. One of the main things I found was that everyone got involved and everything was well explained and demonstrated. I found them really good every week.”

The programme is currently available to those living in the North Wicklow catchment area via GP referral.

Watch how John and Joan illustrate the success of the programme on