​​​​​​Introducing BAMS (Back Pain Assessment and Management Service)

A partnership between Western Health and coHealth improving access to back pain assessment in the West


Western Health, in partnership with coHealth a local Community Health Centre, have secured funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a new a new Back Pain Assessment and Management Service (BAMS) to meet the high level of demand for back pain assessment at Western Health. This new service will complement the successful Physiotherapy-Led Neurosurgical Service that has been operating at Western Health since 2010 and will continue to operate throughout the pilot.


The BAMS service is based on a successful trial that was delivered between Royal Melbourne Hospital and Merri Community Services. The West of Melbourne is one of three pilots that were funded as replication sites for this successful program during 2016-2017.

Back Pain Assessment Service

The Back Pain Assessment and Management Service will be based at the coHealth Braybrook site on a Friday. This service provides early assessment of patients by a Western Health Rheumatologist and/or Western Health Advanced Scope of Practice Physiotherapist, working in conjunction with a cohealth physiotherapist

  • Patients assessed in the BAMS clinic at Braybrook will be referred for either conservative management through coHealth, further treatment with rheumatology or will be deemed appropriate for a review with a Western Health Neurosurgeon
  • For patients deemed appropriate for review by a Western Health Neurosurgeon, the Back Pain Assessment and Management Service will facilitate this referral, and the urgency of the appointment will be decided following consultation with a Neurosurgeon
  • The conservative management delivered at coHealth will involve a mix of group and 1:1 sessions, as well as support from psychology and pain services if required. It is anticipated that treatment in the management arm will take approximately 12 weeks.
  • At the conclusion of the conservative management, patients will be reviewed again in the BAMS at Braybrook
  • Communication will be sent to the referring practitioner following the initial and review assessment in BAMS, as well as upon completion of the management arm if recommended


The introduction of this service will not change the existing referral process for patients with back and neck pain to Western Health. Referrals for these conditions will still need to be directed to the Neurosurgical Clinic and require a referral and a Back and Neck Questionnaire to be completed. This referral form is now available in a software compatible version and available to download here. Please refer to Melbourne HealthPathways at http://melbourne.healthpathways.org.au for guidance in assessing, managing and referring for patient conditions. Referrals that do not include adequate information for triaging, including the required minimum investigations as per the HealthPathways and www.westernhealth.org.au will be returned with a request for further information.


Patients who are currently on the waiting list for the Neurosurgical or Physio-led Neurosurgical Clinic who are triaged as appropriate for the BAMS clinic (based on stringent clinical guidelines and protocols) will be moved to the BAMS waiting list. This means that we will be able to offer patients an assessment earlier.

Patients and referrers will be sent communication letting them know that they or their patient have been placed on the waitlist for the BAMS clinic and will be notified of an appointment in due course.

​For more information

If you have any questions about the service you can contact Western Health GP Integration on 8345 1735 or [email protected]