MPFT advanced physiotherapists chosen to champion national campaign page thumbnail

Two MPFT specialists are among a handful of individuals chosen to lead a national campaign taking action to support patients living with persistent back pain caused by Axial Spondyloarthritis.

Karen Morley-Williams and Steph Cliffe have been selected by the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) to serve as its first national champions.

Karen and Steph, who work as Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioners within MPFT’s North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Musculoskeletal Service (NIMS), alongside a specialist Axial Spondyloarthritis clinic within the Trust’s Rheumatology services, are among 12 champions for the next two years.

Axial Spondyloarthritis, or axial SpA for short, is an inflammatory disease of the spine and joints that can leave people in increasing pain and exhaustion. More people live with the condition than MS and Parkinson’s combined, while symptoms can start in mid-teens to early 20s.

The champions programme forms part of NASS’s Act on Axial SpA campaign, which is seeking to drive down the time taken to diagnose axial SpA from the present average timescale of eight-and-a-half years to one year.

Champions will work with primary care colleagues to share learning and raise awareness in order to ensure patients with suspected axial SpA are identified as early as possible and referred to specialist rheumatology services.

As part of their new role, Karen, Steph and other champions have been invited to attend a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 30 November.

Through the two-year programme NASS is delivering tailored training and guidance from experts from the NHS Transformations Unit on Quality Improvement and Advancing Quality Alliance in leadership, providing invaluable skills to support our clinical and leadership roles with MPFT.   

Karen said: “We look forward to fostering relationships and working collaboratively with our primary care colleagues, to implement a clear and consistent referral pathway towards early diagnosis for AxSpA, and in doing so improve the patient journey.”

Steph said: “I hope that through the NASS Champion role, we will successfully improve early symptom recognition of AxSpA through a wide reaching tailored rolling education programme, delivered to all clinicians who may have a part to play in early patient presentation with this inflammatory condition.”