PhysioUpdate 17th February 2022


Twenty primary care 'champions' sought to end diagnostic delay in cases of axial spondyloarthritis
Could you be a champion in the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society campaign? (stock image)

Physiotherapists who specialise in musculoskeletal care or are employed as first contact practitioners are being invited to join a two-year development programme run by the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS).

The programme, which was launched on 7 February, is targeted at GPs, physios and other healthcare professionals who could become a clinical champion in primary care and community settings.

Those selected will help a bid by NASS to end what the charity terms the ‘diagnostic delay’ that affects people with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) in the UK. The Act on Axial SpA programme was launched last summer and aims to cut the time it takes people to be diagnosed down to a ‘gold standard’ of one year and then gain a speedy referral to rheumatology specialists.

Chance to develop leadership skills 

The 20-odd individuals who are selected to join the two-year development programme will:

  • receive leadership development support, training in the theory and methods of quality improvement and assistance with identifying and implementing improvement projects which they will test and refine
  • work together in a national learning network to foster community-building, the exchange of ideas and good practice and act as catalysts for change
  • co-create a body of knowledge, methods, tools and experience, and work to share their learning with primary and community services in all parts of the UK

NASS is to seek continuing professional development accreditation for its programme and states that participants will develop leadership skills and gain confidence in service improvement work. Other benefits include gaining networking skills and developing a professional network. They will also create new resources for other healthcare professionals.

Primary care and community services have a critically important role in identifying patients with suspected axial SpA and referring them directly to rheumatology [Dale Webb]Change needed

Dale Webb, NASS’s chief executive officer, said: ‘Time and again we hear from people living with the condition who say their axial spondyloarthritis was missed or misdiagnosed in primary care. We want to change that.'

Dr Webb added: ‘Primary care and community services have a critically important role in identifying patients with suspected axial SpA and referring them directly to rheumatology.’

The deadline for submitting applications is 4 May.

For more information, visit: https://nass.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/220207-Primary-care-champions-information.pdf Or email: dalewebb@nass.co.uk

NASS says it is the only charity in the UK dedicated to transforming axial SpA (AS) care (Source: https://nass.co.uk/about-nass)

More than 200,000 people in the UK have axial SpA (AS) – equivalent to one person in 200



Allied health professionals face an 'executive glass ceiling' at work: physio Chris Tuckett's view

At the end of January, I posted a tweet about a job advertisement (now expired) in the HSJ for a director of nursing, allied health professions (AHPs) and quality. Though the title of the job was not that unusual, it still struck me that executive responsibility for AHPs was essentially being tacked on to an already very broad remit.

The nursing and midwifery professions cover a wide range of clinical specialities and the idea that someone at executive level can adequately represent all of them is somewhat idealistic (though I understand there is a need for sensible limits on board numbers). However, for a single individual to potentially represent nursing, all 14 AHPs, and in some instances, all the psychological and social care professions is simply unfeasible. Yet this is the reality of executive leadership at all those NHS trusts where AHPs have any representation at all, and where that representation will be fulfilled by a registered nurse.

Chris Tuckett takes breath of fresh air on a walk with his son, Hector

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