Musculoskeletal Physio

The Plymouth Hospitals Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Service is the largest outpatient physiotherapy team in the South West Peninsula. This enables the department to accommodate a high referral demand, offer specialist physiotherapy and deliver clinically effective/evidence based classes and clinics ensuring patient centred care.

Over the last few years we have assessed (on average) 17,000 new patients per year. We have also been able to accommodate over 60,000 follow up contacts per year.  


In order to ensure the appropriate and timely delivery of care, all referral requests to the department are processed and prioritised according to clinical need. 

Patients referred for treatment are invited to contact the department in order to arrange a convenient time and location that suits them. Through patient choice, non-attendance has been reduced, helping to increase the departmental efficiency. 

We accept referrals from GP’s, consultants and other health professionals including nurse practitioners, podiatrists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.


The Plymouth Hospitals Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Service is staffed by numerous experienced therapists and technical instructors. Junior members of staff rotate into the department every 6 months. The skill mix enables the department to manage ongoing service demand as well as enabling effective staff development and training.


Our service offers physiotherapy management of numerous musculoskeletal conditions. We have experienced physiotherapists undertaking specialist clinical roles (Clinical Specialists) to help ensure the highest level of physiotherapy care for complex pathologies. These specialists cover the knee, shoulder, lumbar spine, hands and foot/ankle. Furthermore, we have specialist physiotherapists working within the Accident & Emergency Department.  

Several of the department physiotherapists work as extended scope practitioners (ESPs) These roles have enhanced the working relationships with the hospital consultants and help facilitate clinical need and optimise patient care. They are able to request imaging and further investigations and offer specialist treatment in order to assist with patient management.

Teaching/continual professional development

Given the size of our physiotherapy department and the large number of staff with a wide range of specialist interests we are able to cascade a high level of experience and skills throughout the team.

We remain committed to the continuous professional development of the Plymouth Hospitals Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy team.

We have a comprehensive In-service training programme tailored to the needs of staff members each with varying levels of expertise.

Band 6 senior staff receive extensive training and mentoring is undertaken with a senior colleague in order to discuss complex cases or practice techniques.

At the commencement of each junior rotation, Band 5 rotational staff complete competency training in key musculoskeletal areas in order to maintain a high level of care throughout the team. Junior Physiotherapists are also offered monthly in-service training and have mentoring sessions every week with their senior colleagues. 

This extensive teaching helps the department to ensure the continued delivery of a quality service for both the service commissioners and users.

Treatment Modalities

We are able to offer an extensive range of treatment options tailored to the needs of the patient. These include:

  • Spinal manual therapy, including manipulation.
  • Peripheral joint mobilisations.
  • Soft tissue techniques and trigger point release.
  • Exercise therapy delivered to both individuals and in group settings.
  • Triage service for obstetric (pregnant) patients.
  • Lower limb rehabilitation class (Mainly post ACL reconstructions)
  • Hydrotherapy for musculoskeletal conditions
  • Electrotherapy including Ultrasound therapy.
  • Injection therapy.

We currently have 3 experienced physiotherapists qualified to deliver intra-articular and peri-articular steroid injections to assist with pain relief.

  • Acupuncture (over half of our staff are now qualified to offer this modality)
  • Taping/strapping.
  • Neurosurgery telephone follow ups.
  • Back rehabilitation programme.
  • Shoulder Rehabilitation class. 


For the convenience of the service users we staff 7 sites around the city and wider health care community where patients can choose to have their physiotherapy treatment undertaken.

These are:

  • Derriford Hospital, Zone E, Level 7    
  • Cumberland Centre
  • Plympton Health Centre           
  • Ivybridge Health Centre                    
  • Plymstock Clinic                     

All above departments can be contacted through main Physiotherapy Department on 01752 432233.

Our wider community sites can be contacted direct via the below phone numbers

  • Tavistock Hospital:  01752 436131
  • South Hams Hospital at Kingsbridge :  01752 438203                 


We recognise the importance of working closely within the Multi-Disciplinary Team in order to deliver an effective service to both commissioners and service users. We Endeavour to maintain effective communication with all members of the MDT. This includes the issue of a physiotherapy report to the referrer upon completion of a physiotherapy care episode.

We strive to maintain a high level of service and welcome any comments regarding our department in order that we may continue to fully meet the needs of all users and commissioners.


We are always interested in having feedback from our service users, whether GPs or patients, so that we can constantly improve our service. 

We have developed satisfaction questionnaires and surveys which we try to repeat each year. 

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