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The Welsh Rheumatology Society held their All Wales Audit Meeting at Gregynog Hall from 28-29 March 2019. This annual meeting is a unique opportunity for Welsh rheumatology health professionals to collaborate, innovate and compare and contrast the services they provide to improve the care of their patients. Over 80 members of Welsh rheumatology multidisciplinary teams (MDT) attended across both days of the conference.

Despite overwhelming workforce challenges facing members across the MDT in Wales, the two day conference was charged with ambitious energy for continuous improvement in rheumatology services.

Rheumatology health professionals across Wales seek innovative ways to improve patient care, to develop new treatments and put research and improvement into action. In Wales, the population is older and sicker than England, for example. These factors affect a population’s health and places greater demand on Welsh health services. Despite these challenges, the question and answer sessions after guest speakers and case presentations were effectively utilised to compare and contrast services across Welsh health boards. Very few nation’s rheumatology MDTs can come together in one room to share their experiences and best practise in healthcare so fluidly.

Our Devolved Nations Liaison Officer Lauren Bennie was invited to join the Wales BHPR Allied Healthcare Professionals annual meeting where the group discussed developments across Wales, audits, innovations in rheumatology and explored their way forward for Rheumatology AHPs in Wales.

In a short space of time during this meeting, Chairperson & Lead Nurse Debora Harry encouraged AHPs to devise a plan to share best practise and experiences of biosimilar switchovers. Each health board is at very different stages of biosimilar switchover so the opportunity to learn from one another’s practise has great potential. AHP peers discussed the appropriate methodology and quantitative measures required to record the proposed switchover project, before coordinating how each local health board would submit their findings to the group’s appointed lead officer ahead of a future presentation to next year’s All Wales conference.

Learning and development was also a focus of the AHP agenda with members highlighting the lack of protected study leave for educational purposes and our educational offering to AHP members and non-members alike. We will be hosting multiple educational events for AHPs in both England and Northern Ireland throughout 2019. Full details can be found on our Events & Learning homepage

AHPs can also take advantage of the mentoring scheme which pairs members with a trusted mentor from across the MDT. All mentors and mentees are offered mentoring training.

In closing, BHPR AHP peers discussed the vacant AHP positions in physiotherapy, pharmacy and occupational therapy with Chris Bellis, ESP Physiotherapist in Rheumatology and Primary Care at Wrexham Maelor hospital taking up the vacant physio representative post. 

Debora Harry, BHPR Representative & Regional Lead also discussed the benefits: “The time requirements of any voluntary role do vary but you get out what you put in. Preparing for and chairing the Welsh AHP meeting does take some commitment but I balance that with the development opportunities I’ve gained. Learning is constant in any professional career and through engaging with others across Wales, we can share best practice opportunities and innovations for the benefit of our service users and AHPs.”

Rheumatology Allied Health Professionals can have a strong voice in Wales. Taking up representative roles on our/BHPR platforms strengthens this position and supports collaboration with colleagues across the speciality in Welsh health boards and the UK’s home nations. 

The annual Welsh meeting is an opportunity for AHPs to gain valuable knowledge which can be translated into practice and forms part of the AHP annual appraisal and revalidation requirements. The next All Wales meeting of the Welsh Rheumatology Society will take place from 19-20 March 2020 at Gregynog Hall, Powys. A date not to be missed for our members of rheumatology MDTs across all home nations.