Press release: Innovative programme for chronic joint pain given a sustainable future thanks to new partnership

A new partnership between the Health Innovation Network (HIN) and Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK) has secured the future of an award-winning programme that helps people with knee, hip and back pain.

The ESCAPE-pain programme, which stands for Enabling Self-Management and Coping with Arthritic Pain using Exercise (ESCAPE), was developed by Professor Mike Hurley at St George’s University of London and Kingston University to help people with knee, hip and back pain. In 2013 it was identified as a local innovation that was ready for adoption by the Health Innovation Network (HIN), the Academic Health Science Network for south London. It has since been supported by Versus Arthritis, Sport England, the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), the AHSN Network. In 2020 it was named Musculoskeletal
(MSK) Initiative of the Year by Health Service Journal.

During the last eight years the HIN has worked with partners to support the scale-up of ESCAPE-pain to over 300 locations across the UK. It has been used by around 20,000 participants, saving £30million in health and social care costs. Participants frequently report that their pain improves, they take fewer medications and find they are more able to get back to doing the things they enjoy.

The longer-term future of the programme has now been secured through a partnership between HIN and national medical charity Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK). From April 20th, the charity, which works to improve bone, joint and muscle wellbeing through education, training and research, will be operating and developing ESCAPE-pain under licence from the HIN. Key members of the ESCAPE-pain team will continue to run ESCAPE-pain at Orthopaedic Research UK, ensuring a seamless transfer.

Adrian Downing, chair of ORUK said: “The difference ESCAPE-pain makes to people with arthritic pain is clear. As one of the few charities devoted to bone, joint and muscle wellbeing, we have a critical role to play in enabling pain-free movement for all. The stark reality is that poor musculoskeletal health is a major and debilitating drain on society. It is the third largest area of expenditure for the NHS. Tragically, it is also linked to rising levels of obesity, anxiety, isolation and depression. With such a huge societal impact, we must never accept the inevitability of pain, or indeed its cost. This is why we are so excited about this partnership with HIN, which gives us a proven and practical way to help the many thousands of people suffering from poor musculoskeletal health. We are looking forward to working with all the providers who currently deliver ESCAPE-pain services.”

Rishi Das-Gupta, Chief Executive, HIN said:

It has been rewarding for all those involved to see the success of ESCAPE-pain in the last eight years. The HIN has supported the development and spread of the programme and we’re delighted to have identified a sustainable future for the programme which will ensure its continued national delivery, so that many more people with chronic joint pain can benefit from this evidence-based approach.

Queries regarding the ESCAPE-pain programme can now be sent to