The Football Association Medical ‘Pathway’

Every player at every level of the game should be able to participate in football-related activities with the reassurance that their medical interests have not been overlooked, and that should they succumb to injury or illness, they will receive prompt, safe,appropriate and effective pitchside medical care.

Professional football is now a highly visible, much publicised activity, with immediate televised exposure to a worldwide audience; the  immediate ‘macroscopic’ critical scrutiny. It is within this challenging context that many sports medicine practitioners operate. However, this should not be the motivation to ensure the maintenance of an appropriate level of knowledge and skill for the management of the seriously injured player.

Medical practitioners have a huge responsibility in discharging their ‘duty of care’ for their charges on the football field. If a desirable outcome is to be achieved the practitioner needs to be able to respond quickly and calmly, and administer appropriate pre-hospital care in potentially difficult circumstances. Prompt, skilled intervention saves lives! It is acknowledged that in the workplace environment, sports medicine practitioners are not confronted by serious injury or illness on a daily basis; nevertheless one should not be complacent. Paradoxically, it is the ‘skill fade’ that makes it even more important that the practitioner maintains and regularly revisits the required competencies for the dealing with the player who is critically injured. Beyond the professional obligation of skill maintenance, the need for continued professional development also exists.

The FA’s ‘pathway’ of medical courses have been specifically developed as ‘fit for purpose’ courses for all ‘disciplines’ (medical professionals, coaches, referees, teachers, parents) who are working in football environments and are designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills to assess, recognise and treat (as appropriate) the infrequent presentations of the critically injured/ill players in the pre-hospital setting. The courses also acknowledge the need to promote inter-disciplinary teamwork in the management and handling of the player to facilitate an effective handover and transfer to a hospital setting.

The courses are founded upon the application of evidence-based medicine and pragmatic best practice (based on the knowledge and experience of those working within the football industry).

What mechanisms and provisions are in place within your environment to maximise the medical support for your team and to minimise the risk of a poor outcome for a player who sustains an injury or illness whilst engaged in football-related activities?

The FA Medical Department strongly recommends that whenever football activity (training and competitive) is taking place, an appropriately trained ‘first aid provider’ be in attendance.

Please see below the range of FA Learning Medical Courses available: