Welcome to the Rheumatology department
Rheumatology is a branch of medicine that deals with disorders of the skeleton and the soft tissues that support it, that include, ligaments, tendons, muscles, synovium (joint lining) and cartilage (gristle).
There are a wide variety of rheumatalogical conditions varying from soft tissue disorders such as tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) to complex diseases effecting more than one bodily system.
We offer a consultant led service with a wide range of expertise; specialist clinics including osteoporosis, autoimmune disease. We endeavour to provide a holistic, patient centred modern Rheumatology service, working harmoniously/simultaneously with the physiotherapists, occupational therapists and GPs.
Meet the team
Our Rheumatologists are Dr Cai Neville, Dr Charles Li & Dr Sumeet Chander.
They specialise in the care of people with a wide range of inflammatory joint conditions. In addition to this Dr Cai Neville is the Osteoporosis and Clinical Lead for the department.
Our Nurse Specialist, Catherine Kotas, offers nurse led clinics, teaching in cytotoxic injectable and telephone advice line for help and assistance with medication side effects and queries related to your inflammatory condition.
Clinical Assistants that work for our consultants:
Dr. Tim Arnold works with Dr. Li on Thursday, he also works as a GP in G&W CCG.
Our consultants are also part of the general medical team working on the wards looking after both medical and rheumatological patients, with a team of junior doctors, some of whom also help in outpatient clinics, under supervision.
Our Occupational Therapists, Isobel Fairway and Laura Wignall offer hand therapy for inflammatory conditions.
Our Physiotherapist, Joanne Richardson who is a Clinical Specialist physiotherapist for Rheumatology, offers a service for newly diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Telephone Advice Line
Currently we are unable to supply an advice line. You can leave a message on your consultant secretary’s answer machine- all calls will be triaged and returned as appropriate.
If you have an urgent enquiry please contact your GP, 111 or in an emergency go to Accident and Emergency.
Appointments cannot be arranged, cancelled or altered on the advice line, for appointment queries you can call the appointment centre on 01483 464002 or email rsc-tr.OPDApptCentre@nhs.net.
What to expect at your visit
You will be seen by a member of the Rheumatology team. This may be a junior doctor or a Clinical Assistant on behalf of the consultant. You should bring an up to date list of your medications, along with a urine sample, particularly at initial consultation. You may be sent for X-Rays or blood tests after your consultation, and should be prepared for this.
You may need to be reviewed regularly by a member of the rheumatology team and/or your condition may be one that your own GP can manage in the community.
We work very closely with your GP to ensure your treatment is well managed. A letter goes to your GP after each consultation detailing any investigations performed and a management plan.
Depending on your diagnosis, you may be commenced on ‘Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs’, otherwise known as DMARDs. You will be given information about these drugs at your appointment, and should expect to have monitoring of these drugs, often done in the community by your GP.
Medical Day Unit
You may be asked to attend the Medical Day Unit. This is situated on level A of the hospital. Patients attend there to receive infusions (e.g. Aclasta, Inflectra) and joint injections.
If you need a joint injection, this will usually this will be arranged with the consultant. Please be advised that you may be in the department for up to 6hrs. Following this, you will need to rest the joint for 24hrs. Please ensure that you have made arrangements for somebody to collect you, as you will not be able to drive.
Contact number for Medical Day Unit is 01483 571122 Ext. 2424.
Frequently asked questions
- Should I have the ‘Flu and/or pneumonia jab?
These are both safe for you to have, and we would recommend both the ‘Flu and pneumonia vaccine in patients with rheumatological conditions, particularly if you are on disease modifying drugs (e.g. methotrexate).
- What do I do with my medication during my operation?
Usually it is safe to continue all DMARDs during the time of an operation. It should have no impact on healing or infection rate. The exceptions to this are steroids and biologic drugs (Benepali/Humira /inflectra). Steroids should be taken at the minimum dose possible, to avoid infection/delayed healing. Do NOT stop steroids or reduce dose without consultation with your GP or consultant. Injectable biologics should be stopped for 2 weeks before and restarted when the wound is healed with no sign of infection (usually 1-2 weeks). With infliximab, surgery should be timed to be between infusions (i.e. 4 weeks after an infusion).
- I have an infection/am on antibiotics, do I stop my medication?
DMARDs are usually continued in mild-moderate infections. If you have a severe infection, bad enough to necessitate hospital admission, sometimes DMARDs are stopped at the discretion of your doctors. Biologic drugs should always be stopped at any sign of infection and re-started once infection cleared/antibiotics finished. Steroids should NEVER be stopped during infection, and the dose may sometimes be increased.
- I think I am having a side effect of my medication, what should I do?
If the situation is an emergency, contact your GP, call 111 or go to A&E. Consult your drug information leaflet. If the situation is not an emergency, you can leave a message on your consultant secretary’s answer machine – all calls will be triaged and returned as appropriate.
- I am having a flare of my arthritis, what shall I do?
Use maximum pain relief regularly, such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs. Ask your GP if you need something stronger. Resting the joint or joints and using ice/heat packs can be helpful. If this does not improve things over the next few days contact your GP.
- How do I find out the results of my tests?
These will be discussed at your next appointment, and a copy will be sent to your GP and quite often to you at home. Due to the data protection act, these will not be discussed over the telephone.
- Can I have vaccinations while I am on medication for my condition?
You should avoid live vaccines such as oral polio and yellow fever while on any of the immunosuppressive drugs such as Methotrexate, Azathioprine, Leflunomide, Humira, Benepali and Inflectra. It would be wise to discuss vaccinations with your GP well in advance of any travel arrangements, if you may require these vaccines.
- Can I have a steroid injection prior to my holiday?
If you are waiting for your treatment to work, or your disease is active, we may decide to give you a steroid injection to settle the joints in the interim. However, steroids on a regular basis have significant side effects and we do not routinely administer these prior to special occasions. If you do require an injection please discuss with the nurse specialist.
- I have an appointment in the Medical Day Unit for a joint injection, how long will I need to rest for following this?
Usually this will be arranged with the consultant in MDU. Please be advised that you may be in the department for up to 6hrs. Following this, you will need to rest the joint for 24hrs. Please ensure that you have made arrangements for somebody to collect you, as you will not be able to drive.
Contact number for medical day unit is 01483 571122 Ext. 2424
Monitoring of Biologic medication and repeat prescriptions of injectable medication
For a repeat prescription of an injectable biologic medication please email rsc-tr.RheumatologyDrugs@nhs.net, once your prescription request has been accepted you will get an email confirmation, alternatively you call the nurse advice line.
If there are no problems with your request you will not here from the department again, please call your delivery company if you haven’t heard from them in 2 weeks of your confirmation email.
To ensure all prescriptions can be generated without delay please ensure you have your bloods done 3 monthly, if you live out of area can you ensure your blood results are faxed, posted or emailed to the Rheumatology Department. Please also ensure you have attended all your scheduled follow up appointments with the Rheumatology Department, this will allow us to update your funding criteria to ensure there are minimal delays with your prescription.
Cytotoxic sharp disposal
Information for General PractitionersProtocol for the administration of LeflunomideProtocol for the administration of Mycophenolate Mofetil
- British Society for Rheumatology
- Arthritis care
- Arthritis Research Campaign
- National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
- National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society
- National Osteoporosis Society
Tel 01483 464002 or email rsc-tr.OPDApptCentre@nhs.net
Secretary to Dr LI
Tel 01483 464159
Secretary to Dr Neville
Tel 01483 464845
Secretary to Dr Chander
Tel 01483 01483 571122 ext.2707
Catherine Kotas Specialist Nurse
Tel 07879 425166
Tel 01483 571122 ext. 4321
Medical Day Unit
Tel 01483 571122 ext. 2424
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