First ever course on muscle-wasting conditions for GPs launched

Published Date
Bobby Ancil
GP muscle-wasting condition course

Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have come together to create the first ever online course for GPs on the presentation and management of neuromuscular conditions in primary care.

The new training module, which has been developed by a group of neuromuscular clinical experts, people with muscle-wasting conditions, the Bridging the Gap team and GPs includes important information in an easy to use format. The course will now help GPs have a better understanding of their role in the management of neuromuscular conditions and to recognise the key moments when a patient needs to be referred to a specialist neuromuscular service.

Neuromuscular disorders are rare and many general practitioners will have very few patients with these conditions. However, people affected by muscle-wasting conditions know that their GP plays an important role in their care. In 2013 our State of the Nation report found that nearly half of all people surveyed felt that their GP did not understand their neuromuscular condition well enough to put in place the right support for them; and two out of five patients felt that their GP did not understand their condition sufficiently to refer them to the appropriate specialists.

A delayed diagnosis of a neuromuscular condition can be particularly devastating for families and can also mean that people are not able to access the optimum care at the earliest opportunity; it also prevents families from adapting and planning ahead from an early stage.

Muscular Dystrophy UK hopes that our new course will lead to more people getting faster referrals to neuromuscular specialists who can diagnose conditions and ensure families get access to the therapeutic approaches currently in clinical trials or development.

This new module, which is hosted on the Royal College of General Practitioners e-learning training website, only takes an hour to complete and is worth 1 accredited continued professional development point. The course is also free to GPs who are members of the Royal College.

After completing this course, GPs will be able to:

• Understand the spectrum of neuromuscular disease
• Identify the key presenting features of the more common neuromuscular diseases
• Describe management, including the importance of multi-disciplinary care

The Bridging the Gap team and the RCGP will now be working hard to ensure as many GPs as possible are made aware of this course and will be working closely with GP practices to share this important and accessible information. We will also soon be sharing a leaflet promoting the course that individuals and families with muscle-wasting conditions can share with health professionals in their area too.

Vivek Gohil from Leicester who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy said:

I really hope that GPs will take the opportunity to learn more about neuromuscular conditions through this e-learning module. I know many people with muscle-wasting conditions who would love for their GP to know a bit more about these rare conditions. Unfortunately, all too often we patients know more about the condition than our local health professionals

Dr Sheonad Laidlaw who is a GP from Glasgow and also has two daughters with spinal muscular atrophy said:

Although neuromuscular disorders are rare, and many GPs will have very few patients with these conditions throughout our careers, we play an important role in identifying and supporting the 70,000 people in the UK who live with a muscle-wasting condition. We need to know when and where to refer these patients and be confident in managing acute complications, such as respiratory infections. These conditions are life-limiting and the individuals affected deserve the best quality of life possible through good holistic care. This course will help GPs recognise and manage some of the more common neuromuscular diseases.

Neuromuscular Outreach Manager Bobby Ancil said:

People always tell the charity how important their GP is in their care; but that sometimes it can be hard for their family doctor to access appropriate information about muscle-wasting conditions. The Bridging the Gap team and the RCGP are now pleased to be able to launch this new course, which we hope will help GPs deliver an excellent service for their patients with muscle-wasting conditions.

To coincide with the launch of the new module Dr Sheonad Laidlaw  has written a blog for the British Journal of General Practitioners on the vital role GPs play in recognising the symptoms and management of children and adults with neuromuscular conditions.

Finally, we want to see 1000 GPs get a better understanding of muscle-wasting conditions by taking the module over the coming months, but we need your help to do this. You can help us by tweeting about the new module using the hashtag ‘#HelpingGPs’.

To learn more about the GP e-learning module and to help us promote it to your local GP practice contact Bobby Ancil on 07920188970 or at

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