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.

This is available for free for members of the Royal College of GPs.


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.

We are also developing our plans for Aspiring to Excellence, where we will be asking for departments to apply for an award recognising the excellent services that they provide and are in the process of improving.


We work very closely with a group of physiotherapists who specialise in axial SpA (AS) called AStretch, ensuring that our aims and objectives are fully aligned. We also work with the CSP, not just on the First Contact Practitioner programme, but on their more general work as well, including campaigns such as Love Activity, Hate Exercise which launched in 2018.

Read more