Rheumatology

Rheumatology is the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and therapy of rheumatic diseases.


COVID-19 Advice from the British Society of Rheumatology [BSR]

  • Some rheumatology patients particularly those on steroids and biologics will be immunosuppressed and should therefore be considered ‘high-risk’. However all patients’ including all those aged 16 or under, should continue to take their medication unless directed by their rheumatology team. Please remember patients on long-term glucocorticoids (steroids, prednisolone) should not stop these abruptly
  • If patients develop symptoms of any infection, established practice should be followed and immunosuppressive therapy paused for the duration of the infection and until they feel well, in consultation with their rheumatology team. This would include methotrexate, leflunomide, azathioprine, mycophenolate and all of the biologic medications. For those on glucocorticoids (steroids, prednisolone), the expectation is that treatment should not be stopped abruptly and advice should be sought from their treating team.
  • Patients should check the British Society of Rheumatology website for updates www.rheumatology.org.uk
  • Patients can contact the Rheumatology Nurses on sash.rheumatologynurses@nhs.net

Rheumatologists deal mainly with clinical problems involving joints, soft tissues, autoimmune diseases, vasculitis and connective tissue disorders. Because the immune system is involved in many of these diseases rheumatology is increasingly the study of immunology.

There are over 200 types of rheumatic diseases and our rheumatology team offers a service of treatment to include rheumatoid, psoriatic and reactive arthritis, connective tissue disorders such as lupus (SLE), scleroderma and Sjögrens syndrome, vasculitis (including Wegener’s granulomatosis, polyarteritis nodosa, giant cell/temporal arteritis and Behçets syndrome), polymyalgia rheumatica, osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis and gout.

As rheumatic disease not only affects joints, the consultants work closely with their colleagues in orthopaedics, ophthalmology, neurology, ENT, thoracic and renal medicine in the treatment of their patients. They will refer patients to orthopaedic surgeons if treatment is needed, such as joint replacement. However, in recent years, better management of rheumatic disease has meant a reduction in the number of patients needing surgery.

The rheumatology team sees around 1,700 new outpatients and 6,000 follow-up patients per year within the Trust’s geographical area, as well as some patients from the East Grinstead area. Our outpatient clinics are held on several sites: East Surrey Hospital, Crawley Hospital, Horsham Hospital, Caterham Dene Hospital and Oxted Health Centre.

The rheumatology team has close links with the extended scope physiotherapy service, benefits from the cooperation of GP colleagues to facilitate safe prescribing and monitoring of rheumatology medications and has excellent and impeccable support from a team of experienced senior medical secretaries and administrative staff.

Clinical trials

The rheumatology team and their patients are actively involved in clinical trials and research, both nationally and multi-nationally. Clincial trials ensure not only best quality clinical care but also patient access to the most up to date treatments.

Our clinical trials

  • Outcome and delays in treating early arthritis
  • Regular and ongoing contributions to the British Society for Rheumatology Rheumatoid Arthritis Register (BSRBR-RA) which is the largest prospective register in the world of rheumatology patients receiving biologic therapy. The chief aim of the register is to monitor the long-term safety profile of the biologic agents used
  • ACTION Clinical Trial: a global study comparing anti-TNFα inhibitors with Tocilizumab as the first biologic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology nurse specialists

Lynne Abudy
T: 01293 600 300 x3417

Divya Thomas
T: 01737 768 511 x6748

Osteoporosis nurse specialist

T: 01737 768 511 x2835