GPs are the first port of call for anyone suffering with back pain. It’s estimated that up to a third of people will suffer from back pain in their lifetime but only 5% of these cases will be due to an underlying inflammatory arthritis. Axial SpA (AS) isn’t always easy to spot so we wanted to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and highlight how it should be managed. We believe GP awareness and understanding is key to reducing delays to diagnosis.
From 2012 NASS ran a series of Back Pain Seminars, reaching 1,200 GPs. During this time we also produced our Meeting in a Box – a resource which could be used by those working in rheumatology to hold their own primary care events. Axial SpA (AS) was also included as a ‘Hot Topic’ at NB Medical events around the country in 2012 and 2013, attended by 10,000 GPs.
First Contact Practitioners
First Contact Practitioners (FCPs) are a new in the world of primary care. Championed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), FCPs are set to take on around 40% of casework from GPs over the next few years. They will come into play when people contact their GP for an appointment about a musculoskeletal condition (MSK) like axial SpA (AS).
The aim is to reduce inappropriate referrals to rheumatology, freeing up appointments and reducing waiting times. NASS is working with the CSP to reach the pilot areas looking at introducing FCPs to ensure that anyone who shows the signs of axial SpA (AS) is referred directly to rheumatology.
RCGP eLearning Module
NASS worked in partnership with the British Society for Spondyloarthritis (BRITSpA) to sponsor an eLearning module on axial SpA (AS) on the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) website. The module covers diagnosis and management. It was authored by Professor Karl Gaffney, Consultant Rheumatologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and Dr Danny Murphy, who works as a rheumatologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and as a GP in Devon.
It’s a great free resource for anyone who works in primary care and we hope will help reduce the delay to diagnosis.