The service is led by a consultant physician who has completed specialist training in sport and exercise medicine (SEM). Continuing professional development is achieved through regular postgraduate meetings within the department and with associated specialties (such as rheumatology, rehabilitation medicine and orthopaedics) and with other physicianly specialties within the trust. There will be regular tutorials for junior staff. Attendance at annual national and international meetings of sport and exercise medicine societies is encouraged as well as the opportunity to attend relevant courses. There are annual appraisals of all permanent staff and regular assessments of trainees.
Weekly multidisciplinary team meetings enhance the management of patients. Regular audits of the service are carried out and clinically relevant research is encouraged. Outcome measures are used to assess the effectiveness of the interventions. Guidelines can be developed by working closely with linked specialties.
An example is a new patient audit of referrals to the Nottingham University Hospitals SEM clinics. This identified the type of injuries that are referred to the clinic and the aetiological factors, including the sport, responsible for the injury. It also included the resources used to diagnose and treat the injuries seen and the development of self-help advice for the most common injuries.
The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK provides a professional code of conduct and a series of position statements. The British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine offers educational courses and guidelines.
Accessing data for quality improvement
As a new specialty sport and exercise medicine (SEM) has so far not had the opportunity to develop national datasets.
A key area is to develop our understanding on how physical activity and sport influence the risk of developing chronic diseases. The current Arthritis Research UK study on osteoarthritis in sport should eventually provide valuable data to influence practice. By using new technologies, such as physical activity monitoring apps on smartphones, we will be able to get a better handle on the level of physical activity in the community and in patient populations. Better data will enable us to understand the impact of a range of interventions to encourage increased levels of physical activity and how this impacts on health. We need a better understanding of the financial implications of these delayed health benefits if as a nation we are to make informed decisions about commissioning healthcare. The National Centres for Sport and Exercise Medicine are well placed to lead in these areas.
The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK offers mentoring for new consultants and appraisals for all SEM doctors.