My Experience form the Yorkshire & Humber BSR & BHPR Regional Meeting

By Christine Beck, Occupational Therapy Clinical Service Manager based at Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds

When I arrived at the venue for this inaugural Yorkshire and Humber BSR & BHPR meeting, I was really pleased to see a number of familiar faces from the large department I work in at Leeds but more importantly the vast number of faces I didn’t recognise. Having just joined the regional BHPR group as Occupational Therapy representative I used this opportunity to help meet and greet attendees giving me the chance to introduce myself. There was a great mix of medics, research professionals, nurses, and AHPs from all over the region.

The day started with an introduction from Dr Michael Backhouse, BHPR President. He gave a brief history of BHPR and the integration with BSR. Stressing the importance of the MDT working and the value of sharing skills and knowledge to improve the care for our patients.

The morning session began with David Pickles, Lead Rheumatology Clinical Research Nurse. He outlined role of disease activity assessment in spondyloarthropathies and discussed the main techniques. David then went on to facilitate a workshop along with Jason Ward and Dr Jane Martindale demonstrating the measures used in this assessment. This was a great opportunity to get out of our seats and move into small groups where we could have a go at completing the BASMI measurements. I felt one of the best outcomes of this session was that it generated conversation between clinicians, providing a real opportunity for us to discuss and compare how individuals use this assessment in practise.

Dr Jane Martindale, Extended Scope Physiotherapist and Therapy Research Lead, then went on to present a talk about how her physiotherapy role and intervention has changed since the introduction of Biologics. This talk really resonated with me, having worked as an Occupational Therapist in Rheumatology for a long time I remember the introduction of Biologic drugs. I also remember how disabled and deformed my patients could present prior to the introduction of these drugs. Like Dr Martindale who discussed the changes in her physiotherapy role, I feel the occupational therapy role has changed. Within my daily practise there is much more focus on maintaining people’s life roles particularly related to supporting people to stay at work. Patients have a real desire to continue with their normal life tasks in the way they did prior to diagnosis.

The final presentation of the morning was from Dr Heidi Siddle who discussed her experience of using ultrasound imagining supporting her clinical practise as a podiatrist. Ultrasound isn't used within occupational therapy and this therefore gave me an opportunity to look at Ultrasound results, Dr Siddle explained how a normal Joint should present on an ultrasound and then how this would change with joint disease, I personally found this really valuable to help me understand their use.

Professor Philip Conaghan followed this with a thought provoking presentation about when ultrasound and MRI can be used for peripheral joint assessment, he discussed issues about their value in the clinical setting, frustration of access to ultrasound equipment and the challenges of training staff. Dr Ahmed Zayat supported the need for training staff in his presentation. Dr Robert Thompson presented the ultrasound initiative that is being used at his department in Aintree University Hospital.

I found the talk given by Dr Carole Burnett, NIHR Research Radiographer of particular interest. Dr Burnett presented her PhD research into non-contrast MR imaging of synovitis, part of this presentation discussed her journey from a clinical post into a research post.

As well as the packed day of presentations, the break at lunch gave an opportunity to meet the sponsors from the day and discuss how their medications are improving the lives of our patients.

One of the most valuable things about attending meetings outside your immediate clinical team is the opportunity it brings to network with other health professionals in the region, to share knowledge and experiences. I feel I came away from this meeting with a list of things I had learnt. I had a number of questions that made me want to know more and some shared experiences that were making me look at my own service and think how I could improve this. Obviously the other essential thing is the list of contacts I have made from other health professionals working in the region that I know I can call on when I have a query or need support with service developments.