Pioneering pain rehabilitation programme from Kingston University and St George’s, University of London scoops further recognition at national awards


An acclaimed self care programme created by a Kingston University and St George’s, University of London Professor has received further national recognition for its innovative approach to helping people with hip and knee pain manage their condition.

ESCAPE-pain, launched by rehabilitation expert at Kingston and St George’s Professor Mike Hurley, scooped the Self Care Forum’s Self Care Innovation Award which honours work that empowers and inspires people to self-manage their condition so they can live healthy and happy lives. It is given out annually to mark Self Care Week (15-21 November 2021) – which raises awareness of health and wellbeing messaging Professor Hurley believes is vitally important.

“Self care is the cornerstone to maximising our physical, mental, emotional, economic and social wellbeing and quality of life. It enables us to lead full, independent and enjoyable lives – this is the mantra of A person sitting in a chair

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceESCAPE-pain,” he said.

The Self Care Forum hailed ESCAPE-pain as an ‘outstanding programme integrating information, advice and exercise’ when awarding it with top honours out of eight projects.

The programme, which picked up Health Service Journal’s Musculoskeletal Care Initiative of the Year award last year and was named in the NHS long-term plan, has so far treated more than 20,000 people with Osteoarthritis across the United Kingdom by encouraging them to exercise. It has saved the NHS an estimated £30 million by minimising the amount of healthcare needed by patients, while also reducing waiting times in the health service.

Endorsed by organisations including NHS England, Public Health England, and the charity Verus Arthritis, ESCAPE-pain is usually taught in groups of 10 to 12 people and has expanded to be delivered in almost 300 sites across the UK, including community centres, leisure centres and schools. In addition to the Health Service Journal award, it has also collected accolades including the Royal Society of Public Health’s Health and Wellbeing Award and UK Active’s Specialist Training Programme of the Year Award.

The scheme, first piloted across South London and North Kent, was launched to address the care of more than 8.5 million patients who suffer from chronic joint pain across the UK. It was designed to help people with osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis – understand their condition better, realise that exercise is a safe and effective self-management strategy to reduce hip and knee pain, and recognise the physical and psychosocial effects of joint pain.

Professor Hurley, who has recently been seconded to the role of Director of ESCAPE-pain at Orthopaedic Research UK, said the programme is also a good tool to help with social isolation. “Some of the participants have told me it’s enabled them to get up and down stairs more easily, sleep better, do their own shopping, make new friends and play with their children and grandchildren. These activities often come naturally to most people, but it’s proof ESCAPE-pain is allowing people to live normal lives again,” he said.

The programme was rolled out online during the Covid-19 pandemic to allow people to continue attending classes and has now launched a programme to help people with back pain.