Rheumatology

The following advice is subject to change and is likely to be updated in the future.

As of March 2020, all routine new and follow up clinics are cancelled until further notice. The blood monitoring clinics will continue as planned.

Where possible we will aim to carry out telephone consultations instead of face-to-face consultations for follow-up patients and for urgent new patients.

FAQs

All routine face-to-face appointments are cancelled for the foreseeable future. We will aim to contact you by phone when your appointment is due.

If you are struggling with your condition, please contact the helpline on 01639 862104. Please leave ONE message only.

All new patient clinics are cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Urgent referrals will be assessed by a clinician. You will be contacted by telephone. In a small number of very urgent cases, a face-to-face appointment may be needed.

If your appointment is urgent, your referral will be reviewed by a clinician to assess how soon you need to be seen.

You may be contacted by phone to discuss your referral. Some very urgent patients will be offered an appointment.

All routine patients will be remain on the waiting list.

We advise patients to continue their medication and continue to attend blood monitoring. We cannot continue your medication safely without monitoring.

You must not attend or if you are feeling unwell or someone in your household has been unwell within the past 14 days.

There will be some disruption to the day unit. We are offering infusions and injections for urgent cases. Some routine biologic and osteoporosis treatments may be postponed.

The day unit will contact you if your appointment is to be cancelled.

We will use infection control measures in the day unit to minimise the risk of infection.

You must not attend or if you are feeling unwell or someone in your household has been unwell within the past 14 days.

You should continue your medication as normal.

If you are unwell, you should stop your medication until you feel better unless you are on steroid medication. You should never stop steroid treatment unless a doctor tells you to.  

If you are in self-isolation because someone in your household is unwell, you should stop your medication until the household is out of isolation.

You should never stop steroid treatment unless a doctor tells you to.

We do not recommend you change your medication dose without contacting us first. Your condition may worsen if you do and there might not be much difference in your infection risk.

It depends what you are taking and if you have other health conditions.

The British Society for Rheumatology advise using the table below to calculate your risk and follow the guidance related to your overall score.

Risk factor

Score

Prednisolone - 20mg a day (or higher) for more than 4 weeks

3

Prednisolone - more than 5mg a day but less than 20mg a day for more than 4 weeks

2

Cyclophosphamide (tablets or infusion) within the last 6 months

3

Taking ONE of the following – Azathioprine, leflunomide, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, mycophenolic acid, ciclosporin, tacrolimus, sirolimus, rituximab (in the last year), Enbrel, Benepali, Humira, Imraldi, infliximab, Simponi, Cimzia, RoActemra, Orencia, Belimumab, Anakinra, Cosentyx, Taltz, Cosentyx, Kevzara, Olumiant or Xeljanz

1

Taking TWO or more of the following - Azathioprine, leflunomide, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, mycophenolic acid, ciclosporin, tacrolimus, sirolimus, rituximab (in the last year), Enbrel, Benepali, Humira, Imraldi, infliximab, Simponi, Cimzia, RoActemra, Orencia, Belimumab, Anakinra, Cosentyx, Taltz, Cosentyx, Kevzara, Olumiant or Xeljanz

2

One or more of the following – over 70 years old, diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure

1

Taking hydroxychloroquine and/or sulfalsalazine

0

Total score

 

Score of 3 or more: shielding for at least 12 weeks

Score of 2: self-isolate or maintain social distance

Score of 1 or less: social distance

If you identify that you are at the highest risk (score of 3 or more) then please refer to Government advice. Follow this link to read official guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you score 2 or less then please follow the latest Government advice on self-isolating and social distance.

You can find out more about what you are taking at www.versusarthritis.org.

We cannot offer individual advice about your work. Please speak to your employer to discuss working arrangements if you are at high risk.

You should follow government advice, for example working from home, if possible.

You should contact occupational health if available at your workplace.

You do not need to contact them as they will be in touch with you if you are due a delivery or if there are any issues with the delivery.

You can telephone the rheumatology department on 01639 862104. Please leave ONE message only and we will get back to you.

Your GP has direct email access to a rheumatology advice line for clinical queries.

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