The Rheumatology Journey
Your GP will refer you to the Rheumatology Department if they feel you have any of the conditions that require our care. Prior to being reviewed in clinic, you may be asked to have blood tests done. You will then receive the results when you are reviewed in the clinic with a consultant.
Please come prepared with a fresh urine sample. The Outpatient Clinic Nurse will call you through first and check your details, following this you will then be seen by the clinician.
You may have a full examination, so be prepared for this (in terms of clothing and footwear). We may want to listen to your chest, feel your abdomen and your joints, including your feet.
After your initial visit to the Consultant, depending on your diagnosis, it may be advisable to commence you on treatment to control your disease. The Rheumatology Nurses are here to provide you with all the information on specific drugs, talk to you about potential side effects and monitoring required, to enable you to make an informed decision as to whether you would like to commence on treatment or not. If you choose to commence on treatment, the nursing team will be here to prescribe your treatment and monitor your blood tests closely to ensure your safety. They will review you on a regular basis, either via face to face appointment or telephone consultation, to continuously assess your disease activity and working alongside our Consultants, they may titrate the dose of your medication, sometimes add other therapies to your current therapy and sometimes switch therapies to help you achieve disease remission.
Our Rheumatology Nurses understand that the diagnosis of a chronic disease can be somewhat traumatic and with a wealth of experience are here to support you, to educate you on your diagnosis and to help you manage your condition not just with medication but with conservative measures also. They can signpost you to specific support groups which may be of benefit. They can also refer you on to physiotherapy or podiatry and if you are struggling to manage with your activities of daily living, can refer on to occupational therapy for support. Some of the nursing team are qualified to carry out intra-articular (joint) injections; other members of the team are soon to begin the process of training to do this. Some members of the nursing team are in the process of training to ultrasound joints, which is a valuable skill to assess disease activity; this will enable rapid access to the correct treatment for you.
It may sometimes be that the treatment you require is in the form of intravenous therapy. This form of treatment takes place on the Greenlea Unit (ward 7) at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. This involves attending the unit where our Rheumatology Staff Nurse Michelle will be waiting to greet you, along with one of Clinical Nurse Specialists to talk you through the treatment process. A small needle (cannula) will be inserted into a vein, leaving a tiny plastic tube in place to administer your treatment. Depending on the treatment, you could be there anything from 1 hour up to 6 hours, but you will be informed of the duration prior to attending. Depending on the length of your treatment, lunch will be offered.
Refreshments are always to hand. Once your infusion is complete the cannula will be removed and you will be informed what the next steps will be.
We run a Rheumatology Advice Line Monday to Friday. The purpose of this service is for you to call if you are having a flare of your disease; or you are experiencing side effects to medication, etc. The service can be accessed by ringing the Appointments Centre and asking for a Rheumatology Advice Line appointment. The aim is that you will get a phone call back within 48 hours from a Rheumatology Nurse. Please note this is not always possible due to staffing. In the meantime, whilst waiting for your call back, please use the useful links to the Versus Arthritis website which provides some excellent advice on managing flares, medication advice, exercise, vaccinations, etc.
Please be aware that we do not operate a 24/7 service, nor do we operate an emergency service. If you do not find the information to help through the links, and cannot wait for your phone appointment, please consider either your GP for advice or contact 111. In case of medical emergency please call 999. Please do not attempt to email your Nurse Specialist/Consultant. We actively discourage emailing to personal email addresses, the reason being if a member of staff is off sick, or on annual leave your message will not be dealt with - this is not a safe method of communication. Furthermore, due to clinic commitments it is not always possible to check emails daily.