Healthcare Professional Awareness

We are working with a range of healthcare professionals to raise awareness of axial SpA

Primary Care

GP Awareness

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.

Osteopaths and Chiropractors

Osteopaths and chiropractors are at the forefront in our battle to reduce the 8.5 year delay to diagnosis. With back pain being the most common, but not only, symptom of axial SpA (AS), many people will self refer to an osteopath or chiropractor in the first instance before visiting their GP. NASS has been working with the Institute of Osteopathy and Royal College of Chiropractors to update the knowledge on the condition of their members and empower them to recommend referral for suspected axial SpA (AS) to rheumatology via GPs. We would like to thank these organisations and their members for their embracing this partnership and their enthusiasm is ensuring that people with axial SpA (AS) get the treatment that they need.


We work closely with the British Society for Spondyloarthritis (BRITSpA) on many of our projects, as well as attending their annual conference and the British Society for Rheumatology Annual Conference. It is vitally important that we keep in regular contact with the rheumatology community to ensure that AS remains high on their agenda and they direct their patients to NASS.

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