Why Kirsty wants to be a NASS champion:
I first came across AxSpA (or more specifically Ankylosing Spondylitis at that point) when working in the Regional Spinal Injuries unit. I had a gentleman who was quadraplegic after breaking his neck after falling backwards from a chair while doing back extension stretches for their AS. Compared to my other spinal patients who had acquired their spinal injuries through more traumatic means such as road traffic collisions or falling from work scaffolding, it seemed so cruel that this condition meant that a simple fall from a chair caused such extreme and life changing injuries. I learned there were no treatments that could stop the ankylosing of the spine but then while on rotation in Rheumatology some years later, new, and exciting developments were happening with the emergence of biologic therapy. My new excitement for AxSpA treatment was quickly replaced with frustration with patients being at the mercy of how quickly they were picked up in the community and primary care. Imagine my delight when several years later they piloted the FCP/APP role in Primary care. Finally, a new role where I could start to influence the change needed and be part of the solution working further upstream! My AxSpA spinal patient is that patient who has influenced every career decision that I have taken and lead me to this point in my career. The AxSpA champion programme almost reflects my career journey and is the final piece of the jigsaw to my APP/FCP career.
What Kirsty hopes to achieve from the programme:
“I hope with the support of this Programme that through education, enabling and empowering both clinicians and patients, this will lead to earlier onward referral, smoother patient journeys, more efficient management, ultimately meaning those with AxSpA can decide the life they wish to live instead of this being determined by the extent of their diagnostic delay.”