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Aspiring to Excellence – Introducing the New Teams for 2021


This week, five new teams join the Aspiring to Excellence programme. After a competitive application process, each team secured their place on the programme by showing that they had a strong passion, vision and commitment to improving care for patients with axial SpA.  

We’re delighted to introduce these teams as they embark upon their development journey with us.  

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust 

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals axial SpA team are a multi-disciplinary group, bringing together colleagues from rheumatology, physiotherapy, radiology, ophthalmology, gastro-enterology and dermatology with a shared interest in making pathways clearer to expedite patient diagnosis and management. 

Core Team: 

  • Kristi Hutton – Highly Specialist Rheumatology Physiotherapist 
  • Angela Haigh – Specialities Manager 
  • Dr Louise Daniels – Consultant Rheumatologist and Clinical Lead for Rheumatology 
  • Dr Phillip Stapleton – Rheumatology Consultant 
  • Dr Euthalia Roussou – Rheumatology Consultant 
  • Diana Simeon – Rheumatology Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Dr Si-Thu Aung – Rheumatology SpR/SCF 
  • Haydn Jeavons – Communications Officer 
  • Dr Sofia Vrizidou – Consultant Radiologist 
  • Dr Eleni Vrizidou – Dr Arun Sumathi, Consultant Ophthalmologists 
  • Dr Sujon Samantha – Consultant Gastroenterologist 
  • Dr Taha Aldeen, – Consultant Dermatologist and Clinical Lead for Dermatology 
  • Dr Aparna Bhat – Consultant Dermatologist 
  • Sajid Master – Clinical Pharmacist Rheumatology Lead 

Team Focus:  

–  Engaging with GPs to look at GP education, early screening tools, diagnostics and expediting primary care referrals through an ‘e-referrals’ project 

– Engaging across hospital disciplines to agree clear pathways for consultant-to-consultant referral and co-ordinated management decision making 

– Educating and involving patients in their management through group sessions for newly diagnosed axial SpA patients, jointly provided by rheumatology physiotherapists and clinical nurse specialists 

“Being selected as part of this programme is exciting, but also uplifting.  It really makes me feel part of a wider community of people all working to provide change; and gives me a great sense of optimism about the ability of our team to make changes.” Angela Haigh, Specialities Manager 

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

Core Team: 

  • Will Gregory – AS-Clinic Lead & Consultant Physiotherapist 
  • Dr Audrey Low – Consultant Rheumatologist 
  • Helen Atkinson – Biologics Specialist Nurse 
  • Katy Porthouse – Highly Specialist Physiotherapist 
  • MSK CATS consultant physiotherapist Paul Barratt 

Wider Team:  

Includes 8 other consultant rheumatologists, members of the AS exercise group (as lived experience representatives), pharmacists, advanced practice Occupational Therapists and a super supportive management team. 

Team Focus: 

  • Improving early detection. 
  • Rapid access to diagnosis. 
  • Holistic assessment supporting self-management, flare support/urgent access and annual review. 

“As a team we are really excited to have this opportunity to focus on our AS services, carefully consider what is running well and what needs improvement and to then ensure right person, right place and right time, every time!” 

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust 

Core team: 

  • Dr Aisling Coy – Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Medicine 
  • Mrs Alison Kent – Department Manager and Nurse Lead 
  • Mrs Claire Fry – MSK Physiotherapist with a special interest in Rheumatology 

Wider Team: 

  • Mrs Alex O Reilly and Mrs Karen Rutherford – Biologics Co-ordinators 
  • A patient representative 

Team Focus: 

  • To improve referral pathway for all patients with suspected or established axial SpA. 
  • To improve access to specialist physiotherapy services for axial SpA patients. 
  • To establish a formal annual review for our axial SpA patients. 

“The team in Salisbury are really excited about getting started with the collaborative working that Aspiring to Excellence will hopefully facilitate.” 

The Royal Free London NHS Trust 

The Royal Free London NHS Trust – Barnet Hospital team are thrilled to be part of the Aspiring to Excellence Programme. 

Core Team: 

  • Hasan Tahir – Consultant Rheumatologist 
  • Sian Bamford – Advanced Practice Physiotherapist  
  • Sheena Shah – Clinical Pathway Manager  

Wider Team:  

  • Jasmin Kaur – senior research nurse 
  • Aoife Tynan – senior medicine pharmacist  
  • Rob Jones – advanced practice physiotherapist in MSK physiotherapy  
  • Natasha Banya, lead clinical nurse specialist in rheumatology  

The team and the professions they represent all have key roles in ensuring every axial spondyloarthritis patient receives the care and support they need. 

Team Focus: 

  • Improving recognition and onward referral for patients with suspected axial SpA. 
  • Improving the information, education and support we offer patients.  
  • The development of a flare service.  

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the team at NASS, NHS TU and peers on the programme to achieve our goal of delivering world class care for the axial spondyloarthritis patients in our community and influencing care nationally.”  

University Hospitals of Leicester 

University Hospitals of Leicester in one of the busy teaching hospitals in Midlands serving a catchment population of more than one million. 

Core Team: 

  • Dr A Moorthy 
  • Dr Winston Rennie 
  • Mr Kumar  
  • Ms Fiona Glover  
  • Mrs Jessy Sabu 

“We are excited with this opportunity of NASS Aspiring excellence, and we are confident this will enable us to achieve our vison and deliver more effective patient care locally by learning from great teams nationally.”