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APPG for Axial SpA discusses the role of the rheumatology physio and the wider rheumatology workforce

“Quite simply joining NASS [Portsmouth] and getting proper specialist physiotherapy care and advice changed my life” Roger Stevens

The eighth meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis took place on 3 May 2022. The meeting was led by Chair Tom Randall MP.

Roger Stevens, Chair of NASS Portsmouth, for opened the meeting by offering his own person experiences of rheumatology physiotherapy and how it has positively impacted on his life.

We were then joined by some of the leading lights in the world of physiotherapy, working within the profession and senior representatives from NHS England and professional organisations.

The presentations allowed for a rich discussion, facilitated by Dr Dale Webb, NASS CEO. It was clear that there are four main issues:

  • The way that people are being recruited to the NHS is affecting rheumatology services
  • Rheumatology physiotherapy is competing with other speciality areas
  • Not enough people being trained to the right standard of advanced practitioner
  • There is no workforce planning which is consistent locally and nationally to assess the number of physiotherapists required

However:

  • Health Education England are looking at specialising the musculoskeletal (MSK) workforce
  • There are plans to increase advanced practitioners in MSK

Many thanks to all of our speakers who contributed presentations to kick start the discussion: Dr Yeliz Prior, Vice President of the British Society for Rheumatology on the rheumatology workforce crisis; Amanda Hensman-Crook from Health Education England on the changing role of musculoskeletal physiotherapists; Will Gregory, Consultant Physiotherapist, presented his work on the Rheumatology Physiotherapy Capabilities Framework; Mo Motion from the Aspiring to Excellence team at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust spoke about how she has upskilled the local community physiotherapists in recognising and treating axial SpA. Thanks also to Andy Bennett, National Clinical Director for Musculoskeletal Conditions at NHS England and Rob Yeldham, Director of Strategy, Policy and Engagement Directorate at the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy for their contributions to the panel discussion and of course Tom Randall MP for chairing the meeting.

You can watch the full meeting below.