News posted 20 April, 2020

National award for the Manchester Royal Infirmary rheumatology team

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The Kellgren Centre for Rheumatology at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has won a national award for its work with patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The team received a Best Practice Award from the British Society of Rheumatology in partnership with Versus Arthritis; these celebrate innovative projects that make a difference to the lives of rheumatology patients.

More than 400,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness in joints1. One of the main treatments is methotrexate; it helps slow down the disease and its effects, but many patients don’t take it as prescribed.

The project managed to decrease the number of people not taking their medication correctly from 56% down to 17%. The number of those going into remission from their condition has more than doubled and fewer patients are having to move on to further drug treatments.

The team, based at Manchester Royal Infirmary, worked with patients to identify where the issues were and why people weren’t taking their medication as prescribed. Through working with colleagues, developing patient flowcharts and information, changing appointment times and using medication reminder apps, the team was able to dramatically improve the number of people taking their medication.

Professor Anne Barton, who led the project at the Kellgren Centre for Rheumatology, said “It’s a positive example of translating research into practice. As a clinical academic I came into research to improve the lives of patients with arthritis. It’s been wonderful to see results of research that actually improves the lives of patients in a meaningful way.”

Dr Elizabeth Price, President of the British Society for Rheumatology, said: “Methotrexate is an effective drug for inflammatory arthritis, but patients often struggle with taking it correctly. The Kellgren team used a multi-pronged approach, including simple interventions such as posters, flowcharts and bookmarks highlighting the benefits, alongside motivational interviewing and automated reminders. It’s a well-deserved win for the team, which worked hard to help support its patients.”

The Kellgren team is now sharing its findings so that other rheumatology units can benefit from its research. The team is also seeing if it can use the same techniques on other medications to help improve the rates of people taking them correctly.