Rheumatology

Welcome to Barts Health Rheumatology Service. The Barts Arthritis Centre is the second largest specialist centre in the UK for rheumatology and musculoskeletal medicine. Our experts care for people with conditions affecting their bones, joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.

Our service has been established for over 50 years and during that time has become recognised as a leading national and international rheumatology centre of excellence. We have the breadth of experience and expertise to help patients with their specific issues. Many members of the teams are leading UK experts in their fields and all provide high quality specialist care. 

We use cutting edge diagnostic tools – for example ultrasound to diagnose early arthritis – and often work with other specialties in a multidisciplinary team, to co-ordinate care packages for patients with complex needs.

We provide rheumatology services from:

  • Mile End Hospital
  • Newham University Hospital
  • Silverthorne Centre, Chingford
  • The Royal London Hospital
  • Whipps Cross University Hospital

Why choose us

We are an established centre of expertise - the second largest rheumatology department in the country and part of the largest NHS Trust in the UK.

Our department is run by a team of dynamic rheumatologists and specialist nurses who are supported on-site by allied health professionals (physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists). 

We have particular expertise in treating inflammatory diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis), spinal disorders (back pain, ankylosing spondylitis), the connective tissue diseases (lupus, Sjögren's) and osteoporosis.

We also have a nationally recognised research programme with the latest innovations being directly offered to patients.

For patients

We provide a comprehensive range of specialist services for patients with diseases and conditions affecting their bones, joints, tendons and muscles and ligaments. Our team use state of the art technology and pioneering drug therapies to give our patients the best care possible.

If you would like an appointment with the rheumatology team you will need to be referred by your GP or a hospital consultant. 
 
Your consultant will normally refer you to a rheumatology nurse once a diagnosis has been made or when your drug treatment has started or changed. You can ask to see the nurse at any time if you are attending one of the consultant clinics in the department. We offer a range of high quality services across our sites.

Specialist clinics

At Mile End and Whipps Cross, our team run general rheumatology services and also a number of highly specialist outpatient clinics including:

  • Anti-TNF
  • bone clinic (osteoporosis and other metabolic bone disorders)
  • chronic pain (in association with the pain service
  • connective tissue disease / lupus
  • early arthritis
  • inflammatory back pain
  • methotrexate clinic (pharmacy run)
  • nurse supervision
  • renal lupus clinic (multidisciplinary)
  • research
  • rheumatology / pregnancy clinic
  • sjögren's
  • sports and exercise medicine
  • sports clinic (multidisciplinary)
  • ultrasound
  • ultrasound guided injection
  • young adult rheumatology
  • a musculo-skeletal service - physiotherapy led with consultant supervision, for rapid treatment of muscular, soft tissue injuries including sport related injuries.
  • separate nurse-led clinics for patient education, support and advice and for monitoring patients on TNF alpha therapies.

The Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM)

The Centre runs weekly clinics and monthly multidisciplinary clinics and is part of the rheumatology department. The multidisciplinary clinic has input from sports physicians, rheumatology, orthopaedics, radiology, physiotherapy and podiatry.

Access to the latest drug therapies for inflammatory conditions

We are one of the country’s leading centres for treating inflammatory conditions including inflammatory arthritis and inflammatory connective tissue disease.

Many of our patients benefit from new drug treatments that can successfully manage some of the symptoms of their disorders. We are pioneers in the use of biological (TNF alpha) agents that are used to suppress pain and inflammation in inflammatory arthritis. These highly effective drugs work by copying the effects of substances that are naturally made by the body’s immune system.

Over two thirds of our patients with aggressive rheumatoid arthritis, who are intolerant of (or unresponsive to) first-line tablets, have become pain-free and more mobile with the latest biological agents (TNF alpha) that are available to all of our departments.

The drugs include:

  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept
  • Golimumab
  • Infliximab
  • Rituximab
  • Tocilizumab.

We have been monitoring the effectiveness of these treatments for over ten years, in clinical trials led by our team. Patients with inflammatory arthritis can receive early targeted aggressive TNF therapy through participating in clinical trials.

Frequently asked questions

You may have some questions about our service and the conditions we treat.

What is a rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is a doctor who has had specialist training in diagnosing and treating disorders that affect the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissues and bones, including arthritis.

What conditions do rheumatologists treat?

There are over 100 rheumatic diseases – including arthritis, certain autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal pain disorders and osteoporosis. Arthritis Research UK  and Arthritis Care have a lot of information about the various conditions on their website.

When should I see a rheumatologist?

Many conditions can be successfully managed by GPs. However, you may need a specialist assessment from a rheumatologist if you have severe or long lasting symptoms. 

What does a rheumatology nurse practitioner / specialist do?

They are trained nurses with experience in looking after the physical, emotional and social needs of people with arthritic conditions. This includes patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lupus.

Contact us

For Mile End

By telephone:
Outpatient reception: 020 8223 8400
Nurse specialists: 020 8223 8407
Senior secretary: 020 8223 8859
Outpatient manager: 020 8223 8406

Location: Ground Floor of the hospital.
Clinic hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

For Newham

By telephone:
Tel: 020 7055 5800

Location: Health Central, Ground Floor of the hospital.
Clinic hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9am-5pm

For the Silverthorn Medical Centre (previously Chingford Hospital)

Tel: 020 8430 7210

Address: 
2 Friars Close
Larkshall Road

London 
E4 6UN


For St Bartholomew’s Hospital and The Royal London

Call the main switchboard on: 0203 416 5000

For Whipps Cross

Tel: 020 8539 5522

Location: main outpatients department, Yellow Zone - access can be made from Hospital Road.

Local support groups

Arthritis Support Group

Walter Newby Centre, Bethnal Green Methodist Church, Approach Rd, London E2
Contact Debbie Chagadama on: 020 8223 8868.

Lupus Support Group

Meetings are on the first Saturday of each month at Latimer Church, Ernest Street, E1 LLS Contact Jane Dinnage on: 020 8981 2766

National Osteoporosis Society Support Group

Meetings are held at: St Thomas of Canterbury Church, 557-559 High Road, Woodford Green. Essex, IG8 ORB.  
Tel: 012 7736 5765 (after 6pm)

For clinicians

Current waiting times for patients requiring rheumatology appointments are 4-6 weeks. Patients who are referred to us for urgent appointments by their GP are seen within two weeks.

For referrals to Mile End, St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London

To refer a patient for an appointment at the rheumatology outpatient department, please use the Choose and Book system or write to:

Central Appointments (CAO)
1st Floor, 9 Prescot Street
Barts Health NHS Trust
London, E1 8PR

Tel: 020 7767 3200
Fax: 020 7791 9670
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5pm

For referrals to Newham and Whipps Cross including Silverthorne Centre

To refer a patient for an appointment at the rheumatology outpatient department, please use the Choose and Book system.

Clinics available on Choose and Book:

  • Early arthritis
  • Connective Tissue Disease (Lupus)
  • Inflammatory back pain
  • Metabolic bone disease and osteoporosis
  • Young adult
  • Pregnancy rheumatic
  • Sjogren’s
  • Injection clinic
  • Sports and exercise

For urgent advice / emergency

Contact the rheumatology on-call doctor via hospital switchboard on 020 3416 5000.

Lupus Centre

The Lupus Centre is a multiprofessional clinical and academic centre dedicated towards the care of patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). 

  • The hub is located at The Royal London Hospital (Mile End site) where clinics run weekly on a Wednesday morning within the department of rheumatology.
  • Clinics are also run by the team at Whipps Cross Hospital (Tuesday morning) and Newham University Hospital (Friday morning).

Staff from different disciplines (rheumatology, renal, dermatology, immunology, nursing, physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition and research) work together within the hub allowing for rapid patient access to a team of onsite specialists.

Designated as a specialist centre for lupus by NHS England the department is provided with funding for the latest treatments and currently has over 500 lupus patients managed by experts in the field.

Why choose us

  • The lupus centre is unique in providing a comprehensive holistic approach to care, addressing both medical and non medical aspects of lupus. Patients are provided with rapid access to multiple members of the team within one visit.
  • Consultants in rheumatology, renal medicine, dermatology, respiratory and obstetrics work together.
  • A nurse telephone hotline ensures provision of  urgent advice and urgent appointment availability.
  • A holistic service is provided with patients having access to a unique lupus lifestyle service.
  • The service  is run by a physiotherapist, dietician and psychologist  to address non medical aspects of the disease, particularly to reduce long term cardiovascular complications.  
  • The department has been deemed by NHS England to be a national specialist lupus centre with eligibility for national funding to the latest high cost therapies. the department has the most up to date medical treatments available and ensures safe and effective care through close patient monitoring.

Information for patients

Barts Health Lupus Centre summer 2018 newsletter [pdf] 2MB

Information for clinicians

Patients can be referred to the Lupus Centre at:

Mile End or Newham Hospital
email: susan.lawrence@bartshealth.nhs.uk
fax: 0208 223 8807

Whipps Cross Hospital
email:angela.drew@bartshealth.nhs.uk
tel:0208 539 5522 (extension 6724)
fax: 020 8535 6504

Research and clinical trials

The chance for patients to participate in clinical trials through our modern research and development unit. We are pioneering trials of the latest TNF alpha agents (a family of drugs used to treat rheumatoid and other forms of inflammatory arthritis – we are a UK leading facility for these clinical trials.

Providing access to novel treatments

Barts Arthritis Centre at Whipps Cross offers patients access to novel treatments. We have over 15 years experience of commercial clinical trials and also participate in worldwide randomised controlled trials at various stages, including Phase 2 (establishing the testing protocol), Phase 3 (final testing) and Phase 4 (post-approval studies). The team has established a strong reputation in the pharmaceutical industry for our exemplary practices regarding patient recruitment, retention and clean complete data collection. Our clinicians and research nurses are all trained in good clinical practice.

The research and development unit

High quality research is carried out on site at the research and development unit. This is one of the country’s leading centres for Phase 3 (final testing) trials into newer biological agents (TNF alpha). These drugs are highly effective for all forms of inflammatory arthritis and copy the effects of substances that are naturally made by the body’s immune system. We can provide early access to these drugs in controlled, supervised conditions. The Unit is run by three full time nurses and we have over 10 years’ experience in the field.

The Academic Rheumatology and Osteoporosis Unit

We also conduct research at the Academic Rheumatology and Osteoporosis Unit (ARO) in Chingford. This prestigious Unit attracts research funding from the NHS, and Arthritis Research UK. We take part in many clinical drug trials and are involved in long term monitoring of osteoporosis.

Our contribution to modern medicine

Many of the leading treatments for inflammatory conditions, that are widely available today, were trialled within our units. This includes the latest biologics treatments (drug treatments that mimic the body’s immune responses). We are constantly reviewing our practices in the light of new research.

We are currently monitoring patients who are taking part in 14 clinical trials of biologic therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and SLE.

We accept referrals from consultant rheumatologists in other hospitals where clinical trials are not offered to patients.

Any income generated by our work is ploughed back in to the hospital to support the staff and services we provide.

Resources

This page holds useful resources for rheumatology patients to help them manage their condition better.

Early Inflammatory Back Pain Service

The Early Inflammatory Back Pain Service helps to reduce the delay in diagnosis of axial spondyloarthritis (by more than five years) in patients using efficient screening techniques and educating many general practitioners and physiotherapists in north east London about the signs and symptoms.

This video shows specific exercises to assist people with axial spondyloarthritis to maintain and improve flexibility, strength and good spinal posture.