Nine More Hospital Teams Join NASS Programme to Transform Care for Patients with Axial SpA


Today, the Aspiring to Excellence programme from NASS welcomed nine new hospital teams to its growing movement of driven healthcare professionals who are working with NASS to improve diagnosis and care for patients with axial SpA.

This is the third round of teams to join the programme. They will be focussing their efforts on reducing diagnosis times for patients with axial SpA. They join 11 other hospital teams from across the UK, who started their journey on the Aspiring to Excellence programme in 2019 and 2021.

Our new teams come from:

  • NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde
  • Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust
  • Luton and Dunstable Hospital Foundation Trust
  • Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (which includes Salford Royal Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital, Rochdale Infirmary and Fairfield General Hospital)
  • Teams from the South West Axial SpA Group (Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust; Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath; and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSD)

Axial SpA has been under-prioritised and overlooked within the healthcare system for many years. As a result, people often experience delayed diagnosis and inconsistent quality of care despite a national guideline being in place.

This leaves patients living in pain for years, feeling unheard and dismissed. We want to change this. Aspiring to Excellence was established to ensure that every patient, gets the best care every time. Working with the NHS Transformation Unit, we partner with rheumatology teams to catalyse improvements in their departments and the wider NHS. We offer these teams protected time so that they can work on projects that will improve patient experience and outcomes. We create a learning environment with service improvement experts on hand, enabling data driven conversations and service changes which will reduce diagnosis times, improve care and create a service that patients can value and trust. And we are building a powerful network of healthcare professionals who can collaborate and support each other through change.

Welcoming the new teams to the programme, NASS CEO Dr Dale Webb said: “I am delighted to welcome these nine new teams to Aspiring to Excellence. Since the programme’s inception in 2019, we’ve seen how the use of quality improvement approaches and tools, data driven conversations, networking and supported project planning can assist healthcare teams as they transform the care they provide. Already, we’ve seen measurable differences to the quality of care available to patients in these locations, thanks to the teams on this programme.

“These new teams will focus on driving down diagnosis times for patients with axial SpA, which is an area of service in urgent need of improvement. Their projects will play a pivotal part in our ambitions to reduce diagnosis times from the current average of 8.5 years to a Gold Standard of just one.”

The third round of teams start their journey today and will be working on their projects for the next 12 months.

The Aspiring to Excellence programme is brought to you by NASS in partnership with BritSpA and the NHS Transformation Unit, it is sponsored by Abbvie, Biogen, Lilly, Novartis and UCB.