GP training can cut shoulder referrals

Providing practical training to help GPs treat patients with shoulder problems can cut referrals for physiotherapy and lower overall costs to the NHS, UK research suggests.

Currently, it is estimated that 5 per cent of general practice consultations relate to shoulder complaints, and that the cost of shoulder pain costs the UK about £100 million a year.

In the first UK research to evaluate the effectiveness of providing shoulder pain training to GPs, 155 GPs were randomised to receive training or no training. GPs who received training were educated about administering injections for shoulder pain.

GPs in the group that received training had no previous experience in administering shoulder injections.

Patients who attended for shoulder problems were asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the number of visits they made to healthcare services, such as physiotherapists and hospital specialists.

Overall, the study found that the number of patients making one or more shoulder-related consultations was higher for the untrained GPs than for the trained GPs.

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