The evolution of NBT’s award-winning Rheumatology team

Emily-Rose Parfitt is stood smiling holding the BSR award.

Since their move to the Brunel building in 2014, the Rheumatology team at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) has grown and evolved significantly.  

The team manage the treatment of acute and long-term rheumatological diseases such as arthritis and autoimmune diseases affecting the joints. As these types of diseases affect multiple systems within the body, treating them requires a multidisciplinary approach, which includes specialist assessment, primary care, monitoring, counselling, and physical therapy.  

Over the years, the Rheumatology team has expanded to 11 consultants including the nation’s first Rheumatology Consultant Pharmacist. The team have also expanded their nursing, pharmacy and clinical psychology divisions to allow for a more well-rounded, holistic approach to care. 

In keeping with this approach, the team introduced wellbeing courses in 2017 aimed at offering psychological support to patients and empowering them to self-manage symptoms wherever possible. Their efforts led to them winning a British Society of Rheumatology Best Practice award in 2020.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team adapted to the circumstances and came up with innovative new ways to provide care remotely. One of the ways they did this was by developing an app that enabled patients to log their conditions and attend appointments virtually, eliminating unnecessary hospital trips and improving the team’s understanding of patient outcomes. 

The Rheumatology team’s efforts have been recognised in the form of several more industry awards, including the Excellence in Hospital Pharmacy Practice award at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress 2023, and Highly Commended in the HSJ awards 2023. Most recently, they won the national British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) Best Practice award 2024 (pictured above: Emily-Rose Parfitt with BSR award).

Reflecting on her team’s evolution since their move to the Brunel building, Rheumatology Consultant Lynsey Clarke said:  

“Our dynamic and forward-thinking team has evolved significantly over the last ten years. 

“During and post- pandemic we adapted and embraced novel ways of working to ensure safe prescribing, no missed doses and timely homecare delivery of medications for patients. We have continued with this hybrid model post-pandemic in multiple clinic types to reduce unnecessary face-to-face appointments and travel for patients with well-controlled disease, improving efficiency and optimising service delivery. 

“The awards we’ve won as a team have provided an exciting platform to be able to share this work and benefit other rheumatology teams and their patients. It’s a team I’m very proud to be a part of and I’m looking forward to seeing how things evolve over the next ten years!”