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NASS Aspiring to Excellence programme – Introduction to the teams   

At the end of 2019 we announced the six hospitals joining the first cohort of the Aspiring to Excellence programme.

We’re proud of the work they are doing to improve axial SpA (AS) services. Team members from these hospitals are now meeting four times a year for three years and are given expert support to improve the availability of services and quality of care offered to axial SpA (AS) patients. Here you can read more about the teams and their involvement in the programme.

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

Since the Royal Berkshire team completed an audit against the NICE guidelines and quality standards for axial SpA two years ago, the hospital has been working on various ways to improve patient care and experience which they hope to build upon further as part of the programme in collaboration with others.

The team are particularly eager to look at ways to improve the mental health support offered to their patients, along with:

  • Ways to improve the referral and diagnosis delay
  • Electronic recording of patient reported outcomes
  • Introducing virtual clinics
  • Improving education, information offered and support with personalised flare management
  • Rolling out a shared decision-making model for treatment and biologics.

Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The team run a specialist axial spondyloarthritis physiotherapy self-referral and self-management programme which they are keen to share and expand into their community physiotherapy service across Newcastle and Gateshead. They have implemented an annual review process capturing findings which can identify areas for improvement in the overall health of those under their care.

In joining the programme, they hope to:

  • Work with others to develop their annual review process electronically
  • Collaborate with other teams to reduce delays in the treatment pathway
  • Investigate new innovative ways of working
  • Explore opportunities for online consultation and remote physiotherapy monitoring methods.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

The Sheffield team applied for the programme to share best practice and their learning from their service with others. The team currently provide innovative young adults services and multidisciplinary led clinics, which are well received by patients. With the help of the programme, the team are looking to:

  • Develop ways to improve overall capacity and efficiency of care offered
  • Provide improved patient education and flare management processes
  • Reduce the referral time for axial SpA patients first rheumatology appointment.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Since it was established three years ago, the axial spondyloarthritis team at Southampton placed a strong focus on involving its patients in order to explore what was most important to them and ways to improve the hospital’s quality of care. As a result of this patient input, the team has worked to implement innovations which they would like to share with others within the programme. They are keen to look at:

  • Ways to reduce the referral delay time with particular focus on primary care to rheumatology
  • How to involve and educate primary care teams
  • Reduce the variation in use of imaging

Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

The Leeds spondyloarthritis service is large and well-established with a multidisciplinary approach working closely with Dermatology and Gastroenterology departments to deliver joint clinics. Having grown rapidly in the last 5 years, the team are looking to:

  • Improve patient flow and ways to rationalise clinic demand and waiting lists Electronically capture patient data
  • Develop a regional network of centres
  • Improve the flare advice and treatment

Fife Rheumatic Diseases Unit, NHS Fife

Fife are a large multidisciplinary team with a strong holistic approach to care. They are looking to:

  • Reduce time to diagnosis
  • Establish a flare pathway
  • Optimise drug management and promote of self-management

The team would like support in improving assessment, outcome measurement and use of IT solutions for patient support whilst they bring their experiences of delivering education sessions and innovative ways of pre-screening referrals and their drug monitoring methods to others within the programme.