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RheumatologyClinical services

Connective tissue diseases

Our connective tissue diseases (CTD) team offers a specialist clinical, research and laboratory service. The team is led by two consultant rheumatologists and includes a consultant nurse, with specialist registrars and research fellows attached on a rotational basis. The service receives local, national and international referrals.

Connective tissue diseases cover a wide range of autoimmune diseases including:

  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • systemic sclerosis
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • inflammatory myopathies, e.g., polymyositis, dermatomyositis
  • primary vasculitides, e.g., Polyangiitis with granuloma, churg strauss, polyarteritis nodosa
  • mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)
  • undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD)
  • Behcet's disease.

A collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to the management of these conditions is essential.

Why choose us?

Our CTD service offers a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosis, treatment and management. Our specialist therapy service supports both inpatients and outpatients. Dedicated clinics for patients with CTDs are consultant-led, with a nurse specialist clinic running at the same time for education, support, advice and counselling.

We work with pulmonary and dermatology colleagues across the health community to provide combined medical specialist clinics. These include a specialist pulmonary hypertension clinic, a monthly pulmonary/rheumatology clinic, a monthly dermatology/rheumatology clinic and a two monthly pulmonary hypertension clinic.

We are a training hospital and have rotating registrars and visiting fellows in rheumatology both local and international. We provide training for others through national study days and CTD meetings.

We form part of a national network of expertise for CTD. Professor Neil McHugh, head of the CTD team, is an active member of the UK Systemic Sclerosis Study Group, the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group and the European Myositis Consortium. 

What we offer

Alongside our outpatient services, we have access to inpatient rheumatology beds. This provides access for patients with complex conditions that need admission for investigation, comprehensive assessment and intensive treatment and therapy.

Day case treatments are offered in our diagnostic suite for those attending for treatments such as cyclophosphamide. This service is managed by clinical nurse specialist Sarah Smith and colleagues in diagnostics.

The CTD team provides a group education/self-management programme for patients with lupus and scleroderma where attendees meet with others with the same condition and learn the necessary coping skills. The education team includes a consultant CTD nurse, consultant rheumatologist and allied health professionals (physiotherapists, dieticians and occupational therapists) as well as a patient educator. The aim of the programme is the promotion of better life management for patients with CTD. These programmes have been cited by the Commission for Health Improvement as an area that the rest of the NHS can learn from. 

A patient group meets here on a regular basis, enabling patients, especially those with lupus, scleroderma and Sjögren’s syndrome, to access appropriate support.

How to access our service

Referral can be made by GPs to the CTD clinic via the e-Referral Service.

Referral can also be made direct to the physiotherapy or occupational therapy department for therapy interventions.