A warm welcome to our Champions in Primary Care

A warm welcome to our Champions in Primary Care

This week, 12 primary care professionals started their journey on our new service improvement and leadership programme – Champions in Primary Care.

The programme is part of our Act on Axial SpA campaign which was launched in 2021 to drive down diagnostic delay from 8.5 years and achieve a Gold Standard time to diagnosis of just one year.

The Champions will work to ensure that axial SpA is higher within the clinical reasoning of primary care professionals, so that patients who present with suspected axial SpA are identified at the first presentation and urgently referred to rheumatology.

Over the next two years they will:

  • Receive leadership development support, training in the theory and methods of quality improvement and assistance with identifying and implementing improvement projects which they will test and refine
  • Work together in a national learning network to foster community-building, the exchange of ideas and good practice and act as catalysts for change
  • Co-create a body of knowledge, methods, tools and experience, and work to share their learning with primary and community services across the UK.

Our 12 Champions are:

Kirsty Anderson: MSK Advanced Practice Physiotherapist Primary Care (FCP), Gartnavel General Hospital, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Sam Bhide: Advanced Practice Physiotherapist and AP-FCP, Kingston Hospital Foundation Trust, London

Dr Claire Charlesworth: GP Nuffield Road Medical Centre, Cambridge

Steph Cliffe: Musculoskeletal Advanced Practice Physiotherapist, North Integrated Musculoskeletal Service (NIMS), Haywood Hospital; Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust

Jenny Elkins: Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist / First Contact Practitioner; Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

James Holland: First Contact Physiotherapist (FCP), Viaduct Care, Stockport

Martin Howorth: MSK Physiotherapist, Defence (MOD) Primary Health Care

Claire Jeffries: Physiotherapy Clinical Specialist in Hydrotherapy & Rheumatology; Solent NHS Trust

Lucy McCann:  First Contact Practitioner (FCP), South Warwickshire Integrated MSK Service (SWIMS), South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust

Karen-Morley Williams: Musculoskeletal Advanced Practice Physiotherapist, North Integrated Musculoskeletal Service (NIMS), Haywood Hospital; Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust

Toby Wallace:  GP Partner Derwent Practice, Malton, North Yorkshire

Paul Whelan: First Contact Physiotherapist (FCP) Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Practitioner (OPP), The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.

To introduce the Champions to the programme, we hosted two consecutive learning days in Manchester on 26 and 27 September.

On day one, the group had time to get to know each other. They were given an overview of the programme, learnt about system leadership and took time to consider their own projects.

Day two brought everyone back together to look at the model for improvement, change models, as well as leadership and visioning. They were also joined by NASS CEO, Dr Dale Webb, who outlined the need for service improvement in axial SpA care.

After the event, Dr Webb reflected: “It was incredible to see our Champions embrace their first two learning days. These are 12 passionate and driven individuals who are determined to influence change and improve care for patients with axial SpA. They are going to play a pivotal role in reducing diagnosis times and creating a Gold Standard time to diagnosis for people living with axial SpA. We feel very fortunate to have them as part of the programme.”   

The Champions will meet again in December to continue their learning journey and, in the meantime, they have access to support and resources through the programme’s educational partners – the NHS Transformation Unit and the Advancing Quality Alliance (Aqua).

The Champions in Primary Care programme is led by NASS as part of the Act on Axial Spa campaign which is fully funded by UCB and in association with Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Read the full bios for our Champions here:

Find out more about the Champions in Primary Care programme here:

Symptoms starting slowly

Pain in the lower back

Improves with movement

Night time waking

Early onset (under 40)