Providing excellence of care in all musculoskeletal condition
Get better, Cope better, Stay better
If you have a condition affecting your joints, bones and muscles, our rheumatology service can help diagnose and treat you, helping you regain the ability to live your life normally.
The rheumatology service includes doctors, specialist nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and podiatrists. Together we diagnose and treat patients with many different diseases. We may also see you if you have a complex autoimmune inflammatory disorder that may not necessarily cause joint pain or connective tissue diseases.
If you are a young adult (age 16-25) with a rheumatology condition we can see you in the dedicated young adult service and we hope to meet you with your paediatric team before you transfer to the adult clinic.
To make a diagnosis we will talk to you about your symptoms, examine you, and often arrange tests which may include blood tests, X rays, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans. Once we have reached a diagnosis we will support you in deciding which treatment(s) are likely to help manage your condition. These treatments might include medications, such as painkillers, anti-inflammatories, steroids or treatments to control your condition which are known as DMARDs or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Sometimes we may give treatments by injection and the team will explain the reasons for this if needed. Non-drug therapies, support and education are provided by our multidisciplinary team depending on your needs.
We like to see you as early as possible because we know that early treatment can lead to better patient outcomes in the longer term.
Sometimes we need to involve other specialists or services to support you in managing your condition, for example the ‘living well with pain’ team, orthopaedics or other medical specialists.
We aim to enable you in living as normal a life as possible with your rheumatological condition and to support you in making decisions about your healthcare and treatments at every step.
- Patient Engagement Events
You can also download and read our Rheumatology Engagement Information Leaflet for more information on the sessions.
- Coronavirus advice for rheumatology patients
If you’re being treated for an autoimmune condition it may increase your risk of getting coronavirus. At the height of the pandemic you may have been advised to shield or self-isolate to protect yourself. The guidance on shielding and protecting vulnerable people varies across the nations. Please check the Government’s guidance for ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ people, this is the group defined by the government to potentially be the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
For more detailed information and definitions of the different ‘vulnerable’ groups read Arthritis and COVID-19 – what are the risks?
If you’re in the ‘clinically vulnerable’ group, you may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the average person, but not as much as the people in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ group. This is similar to the group eligible for the annual flu vaccine. The advice for people in this group is to follow social distancing advice and stay at home as much as possible.
If you are taking medication for your rheumatological condition then adults in your household may qualify for early vaccination, please contact your GP for further information.
If you have received a letter advising you to get a 3rd Primary vaccine but have already had your booster please disregard the letter. If you have any further enquiries about your eligibility for vaccination please contact your GP practice.
What resources are available to patients recovering from COVID-19?
Your COVID Recovery is an NHS website providing health advice, guidance and links to support for people who have ongoing symptoms and health needs after COVID-19. There are specific sections about fatigue and musculoskeletal, shoulder and back pain.
For further information visit www.gov.uk or Versus arthritis
Where appropriate you may be asked to attend a rheumatology consultation online via a video call.
Rather than travelling to your appointment, you go into the clinic’s online ‘waiting area’. We will be notified when you arrive and your clinician will join you when ready
You don’t need to set up an account and no information you enter is stored.
If you have been given an online appointment please click on the following link to start the consultation at your appointment time – online consultation
- What do I need to make a video call?
- A good connection to the internet
- A private, well-lit area where you won’t be disturbed during the consultation
- One of the following- Google Chrome web browser or Safari web browser
- Web-camera, speakers and microphone already built into your laptop or mobile device
- Is it secure?
Video calls are secure, your privacy is protected. You have your own private video room that only authorised clinicians can enter.
- How much does a video call cost?
- The video call is free (except for your internet usage)
- You don’t use any data while waiting for a clinician to join you
- A video call uses a similar amount of data to Skype of FaceTime
- If you’re using a smartphone or tablet, if you can, connect to a home or work Wi-Fi network to avoid using your mobile data allowance
The rheumatology team consists of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and podiatrists (open the drop-down box to see how to access each member of the team)
If your consultant has asked you to ring them please do so through the secretarial team:
North Tyneside General Hospital – 0191 293 4150 or 0191 293 2585
Wansbeck General Hospital – 01670 529903 or 01670 529402
Alnwick Infirmary (only available on Wednesday or Thursday morning) – 01665 626756
Berwick Infirmary (only available Tuesday to Friday) – 01289 356628
Hexham General Hospital (Monday to Thursday) – 01434 655336
- Nurses and Advice Line
The nursing team will review how active your condition is and provide treatment according to your need, under the guidance of your consultant and with the help of the wider rheumatology team.
We run a telephone advice line service between Monday and Friday from 9:00am and 4:30pm, you can ring us at any time, sometimes you will need to leave a message or you might speak to one of our administrators. Leave a message along with your contact details and date of birth or NHS number and we will return your call within 48 hours.
For patients from Hexham, and North Tyneside and outside Northumbria:
North Tyneside General Hospital – 0191 293 4159
For all other patients within Northumbria:
Wansbeck General Hospital – 01670 529448
If it is more urgent please contact your GP or NHS 111.
Many of the medications we give you will need to be prescribed by us until such time as your disease is controlled enough for the GP to take over. Because we post your prescriptions you need to give us 2 weeks’ notice.
If you receive prescriptions from the rheumatology department instead of your GP please call:
North Tyneside General Hospital – 0191 293 4223
Wansbeck General Hospital – 01670 564124
When you have been on your medication for 6 months or more we may ask you to go to your GP to get your prescriptions and have your blood tests, this is called shared-care.
Podiatrists specialise in foot and ankle disorders and diseases.
Podiatrists provide comprehensive assessments that include examination of the foot structure, mechanics and gait (walking pattern), with evaluation of the foot neurovascular systems (nerves and blood vessels). With this information individual appropriate and timely care is devised.
Many rheumatological foot problems can be managed with appropriate advice on footwear, exercises and insole management. Throughout our care we encourage active involvement and engagement of our patients, enabling where appropriate self-management of aspects of their foot and ankle conditions.
Our aim is to reduce foot pain and maintain or improve joint function, whilst protecting skin and other tissues from damage which helps people to walk and mobilise in greater comfort and ability. To do this we work closely with members of the rheumatology team and also other colleagues including podiatric surgery and community podiatry who provide a variety of care including routine podiatry and ulcer management and surgical intervention. We also work with orthotists to provide specialist and bespoke footwear and insoles.
How to Access your Rheumatology Podiatrist
Please ask your rheumatology nurse or consultant if you would like to be referred to podiatry
- Physiotherapy Team
If you have an inflammatory condition or other rheumatological conditions, physiotherapy can be of benefit. Our role as physiotherapists is to assess, treat and help you to self-manage your arthritis. Treatment would include advice and exercises to preserve your joints, ease pain, maintain your function and help with your mobility.
If you have a flare up of your arthritis and are struggling with daily activities then physiotherapy can help. You can self-refer to physiotherapy if you are being treated by a Northumbria rheumatologist by ringing your local physiotherapy department. You will be given the option of a phone, video or face to face appointment depending on individual requirements.
Alnwick – 01665 626787
Berwick – 01289 356643
Blyth – 01670 564010
Hexham – 01434 655031
North Tyneside General Hospital – 0191 2934064
Wansbeck General Hospital – 01670 564010
- Occupational Therapy Team
If you are struggling with daily activities because of your condition then occupational therapy could help to improve your function and maintain your independence. Our team will work with you to identify your priorities and find ways for you to continue doing the things you want and need to do day-to-day.
Some of the activities we often assist with include: improving hand function, employment issues, fatigue, sleep hygiene, bathing, home adaptations and splinting provision. However, the focus of your treatment would depend on your personal needs and goals.
You will have the option of a phone, video or face-to-face appointment or could be seen at home according to your needs. We also run a range of group education sessions. Please ask your rheumatology nurse or consultant if you would like to be referred to occupational therapy. After you have seen us you can then self-refer at any point in the future if you feel you would benefit from further input.
North Tyneside General Hospital – 0191 293 4318
Wansbeck General Hospital – 01670 529449
Hexham General Hospital – 01434 655632
- Local Support Group - INFLAME
A support group for people with arthritis run by volunteers. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month. There is tea & coffee for a small charge, plus a raffle. We have a small committee who organise the meetings, monthly flyers, Christmas meal and occasional day trips. We try to arrange a guest speaker, usually from the Rheumatology team, who keep us updated with new drugs or support available to patients.
For more information contact:
Gary – 07852112622
Lynda – 07757009617
- Northumberland Stop Smoking Service
Research shows that smoking is harmful to your bones, joints and connective tissue here are 5 reasons why smoking makes arthritis worse – see useful links for further information and help to quit smoking.
- Higher death risk – research shows that the death rate for smokers with arthritis were almost double that of non-smokers
- Worse rheumatoid arthritis – both current and ex-smokers have worse symptoms and more joint damage than those who have never smoked.
- Less effective treatment – smokers have lower rates of response to medication than non-smokers.
- Surgery complications – smokers have increased risk of delayed healing and require further surgery as a result of joint replacements failing.
- Worse osteoarthritis – smokers are more likely to have more severe pain. The rate at which cartilage is lost is increased in smokers
You can receive support and advice from the Northumberland Stop Smoking Service to help you quit.
Our service has trained advisors who will offer free friendly support and advice to help you stop smoking. Your advisor can also recommend the most appropriate medication to help you deal with any cravings.
Northumberland Stop Smoking Service – 01670 813135
- Versus arthritis
- National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
- The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance
- National Ankylosing spondylitis Society
- The British Sjogren’s Syndrome Association
- Lupus UK
- Living Well With Pain
- Juvenile Arthritis
- Vasculitis Society
- Stop smoking help
Further information about Occupational and Social Care: