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Haringey and Islington Integrated Musculoskeletal (MSK) Service


Service update: Covid (November 2022) 

The MSK service has returned to seeing new patients face to face, following IPC guidance. Face coverings are to be worn by all people entering the health centres unless medically exempt. Virtual appointments are offered if clinically indicated, requested by the patient or if the staff member is required to isolate. The service has restarted its exercise and education classes in all centres. 

The service waiting lists remain higher than normal at present, and these are regularly updated on the Whittington Health website.

Service description

The Haringey and Islington MSK service provides a single point of access care model for all MSK referrals (including MSK CATS, MSK Physiotherapy, MSK Podiatry, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Pain Management and Rheumatology).

Referrals are triaged by an advanced physiotherapy practitioner with consultant oversight to ensure patients are referred to the most appropriate service. Secondary care referrals are forwarded to the relevant provider. This helps to improve the patient journey and experience.

For further details on MSK Physiotherapy, MSK CATS and MSK Podiatry, visit the MSK section of the Whittington Health website below.

Whittington Health MSK Physiotherapy and MSK CATS work in seven different sites across Haringey and Islington:

  • Holloway Community Health Centre
  • Horney Central Health Centre
  • Bounds Green Health Centre
  • Finsbury Health Centre
  • Whittington Hospital
  • St Ann's Hospital
  • Lordship Lane Health Centre

MSK management strategies 

Many musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints can be managed in primary care without the need for an MRI scan or onward MSK referral. 

Strategies that can be used to manage MSK conditions include:

  • adequate analgesia 
  • activity modification 
  • relative rest 
  • reassurance. 

In April 2020, Haringey and Islington Directorates within NCL CCG agreed that imaging does not always correlate with the patients presentation and clinical diagnosis, therefore does not always guide appropriate management.

GPs are no longer able to request imaging for:

  • lumbar spine, unless red flags are present and sinister pathology
  • knees in patients aged >50.

Imaging is indicated for red flags and for changing patient management. Whittington Health has provided a useful guide to whether MRI is indicated or not.

Eligibility criteria


Patients with an Islington or Haringey  GP

  • aged 18+
  • with an MSK need


  • patients with red flags
  • practure clinic patients
  • aged <18

How to refer

EMIS form

Referral methods: e-Referrals

GPs should refer via e-RS to the MSK Triage Service, using the HI MSK SPoA form.

Where to find the form

Haringey: HAR Global Documents > MSK - Physio
Islington: ISL Global Documents > MSK & Podiatry


Whittington Health MSK has historically accepted referrals from practices for those patients who live in one of the following postcodes: N9, N11, N13, N14, N18, N21, EN1, EN2, EN3, EN4, EN8. 

The Whittington MSK Physiotherapy Service is working hard to recover following the pandemic and several periods of service redeployment. The waiting time for routine appointments is gradually improving. The current average wait time is 12-14 weeks.

Enfield MSK services at present can offer an appointment within six weeks. It is recommended that your patients access the Enfield MSK physiotherapy service.

They can self refer via:
w: www.physioselfrefer.co.uk
t: 0333 043 3966

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Review date: Saturday, 11 March 2023