Stockport NHS Foundation Trust’s rheumatology department have introduced a new consultant-led ultrasound clinic at Stepping Hill Hospital to improve care for patients suffering from inflammatory arthritis.
The Early Inflammatory Arthritis (EIA) ultrasound clinic is the only one of its kind in Lancashire and Greater Manchester and makes use of the most advanced technology available.
The service launched in November 2019 and reviews patients suspected to have inflammatory arthritis within three weeks of referral, and the clinic can offer consultation, ultrasound assessment, blood tests and X-rays all in a single appointment, allowing patients to receive a diagnosis much more quickly.
The consultants leading the service are Qasim Akram, Louise Mercer and Charlotte Filer. Dr Akram said:
We are delighted to be able to offer such a cutting edge and world class service to our rheumatology patients here in Stockport.”
“Seeing patients in the ‘one stop shop clinic’ will massively improve the speed of diagnosis and mean that if treatment is required it can be started immediately.”
“Patients with symptoms of inflammatory arthritis can be significantly impaired by the condition, with pain and fatigue that can hinder normal day to day activities. They often have to wait several weeks before a diagnosis is made and treatment is started which may have a huge impact on their personal and professional lives. We are also now beginning to see positive outcomes of immediate treatment for these chronic conditions.”
“Learning to perform ultrasound is not the norm for rheumatologists and is challenging and often takes years to develop. However, we felt that learning this skill would improve our diagnostic skills as rheumatologists and as a result provide a dynamic and efficient rheumatology service, benefiting our patients and the trust’.
The arthritis ultrasound clinic is expected to see over 480 patients each year, and the team intend to expand the clinic to support patients with other rheumatological conditions, including Giant Cell Arteritis and Large Vessel Vasculitis.
Image: L-R: Consultant rheumatologists, Dr Qasim Akram, Dr Louise Mercer and Dr Charlotte Filer.