BRITSpA Annual Scientific Meeting

What a brilliant couple of days at the BRITSpA Annual Scientific Meeting! Thank you to all the fantastic speakers. It was a pleasure to be a part of the two days.

Below is an image of myself (Rosie Barnett) presenting some of our initial findings from the Project Nightingale study alongside specialist physiotherapist Emily Clarke from the RNHRD, presenting her poster illustrating improved range of movement, disease activity and function in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) following the Bath 2-week rehabilitation program.

As always, thank you so much to all of you who have been entering data for Project Nightingale. We are super excited to see how this study progresses and cannot wait for further development of the project!

For those who are interested, some highlights of the two days are presented below:

Dr Gareth Jones (Epidemiologist at the University of Aberdeen) and Dr Jane Martindale (Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist / Therapy Research Lead, Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust) were chairs of the meeting and led the days’ proceedings.

The first day (Wednesday 25th September) saw NASS CEO Dale Webb discussing the important Every Patient, Every Time campaign – stay up to date with news on the campaign here: Dale echoed much of Sally Dickinson’s talk at the BIRD AS Information Day at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on the 19th September, while also mentioning the NASS Voices event in London on the 16th November. Please visit the following website to sign up if you are interested:

Dr Sarah Rudkin from Versus Arthritis outlined their current aims, including relentless campaigns for arthritis to be seen as a research priority. We then received several research; including a year in review by Dr Stefan Siebert (Clinical Senior Lecturer in Inflammation and Rheumatology, University of Glasgow) and Dr Nicola Goodson (Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology, University of Liverpool). This included discussion of a study published by a research group in France who assessed the relationship between flares and physical activity (as detected by a wearable activity tracker) in people with rheumatoid arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis utilising machine-learning (see original article here: It’s great to see these techniques being explored elsewhere also!

The second day (Thursday 26th September) saw highlights from Dr Lisa Dunkley (Consultant Rheumatologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital) regarding juvenile onset axial spondyloarthritis and their young adults service. We received several updates on treatment recommendations for axSpA in pregnancy; including exciting news that Team Bump from AStretch ( will soon be releasing literature on physical activity recommendations in pregnancy. A key message from these talks was planning! Of course, estimates suggest that approximately 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. However, if potential future family planning is borne in mind early on in treatment and discussed with your Rheumatology team, it can be ensured that the appropriate treatments are initiated far in advance of any potential pregnancy – including optimal physiotherapy and physical activity, and, if initiating biologics/DMARD therapy, choosing the most appropriate biologics/DMARD treatment. As is always the case in axSpA (and as I am sure we all know!), the importance and benefits of a good physical activity level and potential physiotherapy programme before pregnancy was highlighted as key.

Leading nicely on from this, we had a fantastic talk later in the day from Chris Martey on physical activity as medicine. Chris is a First Contact Physiotherapist and newly appointed member of the Executive Committee at BRITSpA – congratulations Chris! Many of you may remember him from his time as a Physiotherapist here at the RNHRD.

Thank you again to all of the speakers and organisers – what a great two days.