Musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment and Triage Service (MSK CATS)

The Musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment and Triage Service (MSKCATS) is service for patients aged 16 and over with any muscle or joint problem who have a Widnes or Runcorn GP
Change my appointment

Appointment Form

If you have been given an outpatient appointment at the hospitals and are unable to attend for whatever reason you can use the form below.

It is really important that you let us know of any changes as soon as possible. This means we can offer the original appointment to another patient.

Please complete the form below with your contact details and as much information as possible. You can find most of the information we need on your appointment letter.

If you have any problems using this form, please call the number on your appointment letter and we will do our best to help you. You will receive a response from us so you know it has been received and actioned.

If you wish to change the date and time of your appointment you, you can click the re-book option and state any dates that are not suitable for you, or you can contact us using the number on your appointment letter.

Welcome to the MSKCATS webpage. 

This website contains information on how to self manage a musculoskeletal  (MSK) condition and how to access the MSKCATS service, should you need it, which is a service run by highly trained, specialised physiotherapists in MSK conditions. 

DID YOU KNOW THAT........                                                                                          Most musculoskeletal conditions will settle within 6-8 weeks with the correct self-management and may not even need any intervention from a physiotherapist or other health care professional. 

DID YOU KNOW THAT.........                                                                                Advice about simple pain relief can be given by your local pharmacist; there is no need to see a GP for this in the first instance. 

Below are some self management advice leaflets and exercises of the most common MSK conditions that you may find useful initially. 

There is also information on general lifestyle, health and wellbeing which you may need to help your MSK condition.

However, if symptoms do not settle down or begin to get worse, please use the self referral form on this website to refer yourself into MSKCATS. 

About this service

The Musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment and Triage Service (MSKCATS) is service for patients aged 16 and over with any muscle or joint problem. It is staffed by Advanced Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Practitioners (AMPP’s) who are specialised physiotherapists with expertise in musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions e.g. back pain, neck pain and arthritis.

You can self-refer into the service if you are suffering with an MSK problem without the need to see a GP first. YOU MUST HAVE A WIDNES OR RUNCORN G.P.

The AMPPs are supported by a team of administration staff.

How can you refer yourself to MSKCATS?
  • Online in the right hand sidebar and submit the online self-referral form.
  • Call the patient telephone line on 0151 495 5472.

If the telephone administrator is unable to take your call, listen to the message on the answer machine and follow the instructions.

Please note: If the telephone administrator needs to return your call, it will show up as an unrecognised number.

Self-referral assessment forms

The assessment forms ask a wide range of questions such as your current symptoms, past medical history, medication, sleep pattern and limitations of everyday life. It is important that the form is completed in full. If you have more than one problem please complete another form. This information is used by the AMPP to assess what the most appropriate treatment options are for your condition.

Self-referral forms can be returned online here.

What do the MSKCATS AMPP’s do with the referral forms?

The AMPPs look at the referral forms received daily and triage them. This means they carefully consider all the information you have put on the forms. They also have access to your medical records so can look up any other information they need such as results of investigations or previous treatments. All this information is then used to decide on what is the best management option for you.

What management options are available from triage?
  1. Self-management advice/exercises
  2. Telephone Consultation
  3. Face to face assessment with MSK CATS team
  4. Referral to Physiotherapy or other services
How will I know the outcome from triage?

The administration team will normally contact you to inform you of the triage decision. Once MSKCATS refer you on to other services we will provide you with the relevant contact details.

How long will the MSKCATS assessment last?

Depending on the type of consultation you are allocated MSKCATS assessments may take up to 30 minutes. We endeavour to run our clinics on time; however there may be occasions where an unforeseen circumstance creates a waiting period beyond your allocated appointment time.

What should I wear for face to face assessment consultations?

For these appointments you will need to wear appropriate clothing For example; if you have a leg or back problem, please bring /wear shorts or a loose fitting skirt. If you have a neck or arm problem, please bring / wear a vest top with you if you feel more comfortable.

What does the assessment involve?

Whether your appointment is face to face or a remote consultation, i.e. telephone or video, the MSKCATS AMPP will ask you a variety of questions concerning your condition.

These include:

  • The history of your condition
  • Activities that aggravate/ease your symptoms
  • Medication
  • Past medical history
  • Your occupation/hobbies/interests and how they are affected
  • Lifestyle questions such as smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Results of investigations

You may have already put these details on the referral form, but the AMPP will need to recap these details in case anything has altered. Please bring a list of any question to you consultation if you wish.

With your consent, they may also perform a physical examination, along with different tests which will help them diagnose your condition better.

Following your consultation, the AMPP will discuss appropriate management options with you and organise any necessary investigations, onward referrals or appointments.

Special Requirements

If you require additional assistance, e.g. if you have visual, hearing, language or communication difficulties, please inform us before your first visit.

Please note: family and friends are NOT able to act as an interpreter on your behalf. If you have language difficulties please inform us as soon as possible, and we will arrange for an interpreter to be present at your appointment.


If you require a chaperone, please inform us before your first visit.

Age and Consent

MSKCATS is a service available for GP patients who are 16 and over. When a MSKCATS AMPP asks you to agree to any form of examination or treatment, you are always free to say no or to ask for more information.


The AMPP may need to access your GP records, medical notes or previous investigations in order to gain more information.  Any personal information will only be shared with staff directly involved in your treatment.

How we manage your information

The data is managed securely under current General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). No information is stored online and our email account is encrypted.

Rearranging your consultation

If you are unable to attend a consultation or a review appointment please email or contact: 01928 753210 (Runcorn patients) or 0151 495 5032 (Widnes patients) to rearrange.

Useful Information

To access this service you must have a GP in either Widnes or Runcorn.

MSKCATS do not treat the following:

  • Under 16’s
  • Patients who are housebound
  • Patients registered at a Warrington GP practice.
Telephone Consultation Documents

If you have referred yourself via the self referral telephone line please can you complete the following document/s.

For all conditions: 

Initial MSK HQ - click here.

Final MSK HQ - click here.

IN ADDITION to the above, fill in the additional relevant documents for the condition you are referring into the MSKCATS service with: 

For back problems only:

Start Back - click here.

Making decisions with my healthcare professional - click here.

For shoulder problems only:

Making decisions with my healthcare professional - click here.

For hip problems only:

Making decisions with my healthcare professional - click here.

For knee problems only:

Making decisions with my healthcare professional - click here.

The Nightingale Building (formerly known as Halton Hospital)