Welcome to the Rheumatology Department. We strive to deliver the highest quality care to patients with joint problems and related musculoskeletal conditions.

What we do

Rheumatology is part of an integrated model for managing musculoskeletal,  orthopaedic, rheumatology and pain services. 

We provide expert care, support and advice to patients, carer’s and healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care settings, and other outside agencies.

The rheumatology multidisciplinary team includes rheumatology consultants, specialist nurses and dedicated rheumatology physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists and psychologists.

There are a wide range of rheumatological conditions, from simple soft tissue disorders such as tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon) through to complex diseases affecting more than one bodily system. These diseases may cause various symptoms which are not necessarily confined to the musculoskeletal system. Therefore, although arthritis may be the condition most closely associated with this specialty, joint inflammation is only one of many clinical features. There are over 200 types of rheumatic disease and over nine million people in the UK have some form of arthritis.
Conditions which may be seen by a rheumatologist include:
Rheumatoid arthritis
Ankylosing spondylitis
Psoriatic arthritis
Connective tissue disorders eg. Lupus
Osteoarthritis (for confirmation and discharge to primary care) 

How to access the service

You can be referred to this service by your GP via our single point of access. Our clinicians will assess the referral and organise you an appropriate appointment. 

General enquiries

Rheumatology Clerk - Royal Blackburn Hospital - 01254 734569

Appointment booking centre - 01282 803761

Your feedback is very important to us and vital to help us to improve services.  If you would like to leave a comment on NHS choices please do so here

Opening times

Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays)

Nursing and Administration Team

Bridget Jepson - Lead Rheumatology Specialist Nurse

Bridget qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1988 at Grimsby School of Nursing where she trained with her identical twin sister. Bridget has worked in the Trust since 1990, working in Acute Medical with Rheumatology, including (Gastroenterology & Respiratory). Bridget has been a Rheumatology Specialist Nurse since 2004.  She got her Ba (Hons) in Health Studies at Lancaster University and also has an MSc in Rheumatology from Keele University.

Bridget became Lead Rheumatology Specialist Nurse in 2015 and specialises in Early Arthritis Clinics, Annual Review Clinics and also runs a joint injection clinic. Bridget leads a team of six Specialist Nurses and two administration staff. She is a Non-medical Independent Prescriber and provides liaison for Paediatric Rheumatology patients within the Trust and is involved in Service development. 

Outside interests include: reading, running, pastel drawing and cake decorating.

Stephanie Ainsworth

Stephanie is a Rheumatologist Specialist Nurse who qualified at the University of Cumbria in 2013 and has worked with the Trust since qualification. She has experience in acute medicine before moving into the speciality of rheumatology. Stephanie runs early arthritis clinics and general review clinics.  She is a Non-medical Independent Nurse Prescriber.

Janette Hall

Janette is a Rheumatology Specialist Nurse. She qualified at Burnley General Hospital in 1995.

Running clinics including Biologic Medication clinics at Burnley General Teaching Hospital, Pendle Community Hospital and Rossendale Primary Health care centre, Janette is a non- medical Independent Nurse Prescriber and is able to perform joint injections.

Tania Maloney

Tania is a Rheumatology Specialist Nurse with a BA (Hons) in Nursing. She graduated in 1998 from Liverpool John Moores University and has 12 years experience of working on acute medical wards. Tania has experience of managing patients with respiratory, diabetes, stroke, gastroenterology and cardiac conditions, evolving from being a junior team member to a junior sister.

Working in Rheumatology since 2010, Tania is a non-medical Independent Nurse Prescriber and specialises in the management of patients on ‘Biologic’ medication. She is also qualified to perform joint injections.

Helen Ritchie

Helen is a Rheumatology Specialist Nurse who qualified in 1986 at Burnley General Teaching Hospital and has worked within the Trust since 1998. She has experience as a community nurse, fracture liaison specialist nurse and as a ward and department manager in rehabilitation and falls prevention. 

Joining the Rheumatology Nursing Team in 2016, Helen sees patients in early arthritis and biologic clinics.

Helen has previous experience of working within the Patient Experience Team, and so is utilising that knowledge and experience to look at ways of gaining patient feedback within the Rheumatology Team to enable continuous quality improvement.

Outside interests: reading and gardening.

Athene Gallagher

Athene has worked within ELHT since qualifying in 2004 from UCLAN.  First working within the Urology team on the ward Athene then moved to General Outpatients in 2011 gaining experience in a variety of specialities until joining the Rheumatology team in 2018. Athene supports the team with blood monitoring, medication counselling, assisting with the advice line and running the drug monitoring clinics.

Lynne Smith

Lynne trained at Burnley General Hospital and has worked in the Outpatients Department for 32 years.  She is a Rheumatology Specialist Nurse  and performs blood monitoring and management of patient care and works two and a half days a week in Rheumatology.

Outside interests: reading and quizzes.

Nicola Elliott

Nicola is a Rheumatology Clerk who has worked for the Trust since 2014. She is based with the Rheumatology Nurses at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, although she supports the wider Rheumatology team across the Trust.

Nicola has previously studied Health and Social Care, and more recently completed an NVQ in Business Administration. Alongside her role at the Trust, she has also worked in the private sector to support adults with learning disabilities, mental health, autism, and sensory needs.

Fatimah Sheth 

Fatimah is the Rheumatology Clerk predominantly based with the team at Burnley General Hospital. She works in Rheumatology for a full day on Monday and on a Tuesday morning. The rest of the week she is based in Pharmacy.

Fatimah supports the nursing team with the advice line and general administration duties.


Allied Health Professionals

Occupational Therapy

Susan Ellis

Susan qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2001 from St Martins College, Lancaster (now University of Cumbria).  She gained a Bsc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy.

On qualifying, she started working at the Trust on a rotational post within Occupational Therapy. During her rotation she gained experience of acute medical wards, rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, hand therapy and rheumatology. It was during rotation into the rheumatology department that Susan decided that this was where she wished to specialise and she has worked in  rheumatology since 2003.

Susan helped to set up and develop the new diagnosis Inflammatory Arthritis Multi-disciplinary group and the Osteoarthritis of the hand education session.  

Elizabeth Doherty

Elizabeth qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2007 from the University of Salford.  She  worked at the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley Hospital on a rotation and the Rheumatology service at Minerva Health Centre before joining the Rheumatology service at the Trust as a Specialist Occupational Therapist in 2015.

Her role involves working with patients with inflammatory and non- inflammatory arthritis.  She provides assessment and treatment for patients with a variety of hand conditions and supports patients to manage and cope with their activities of daily living. She runs the inflammatory arthritis patient education group and  the Osteoarthritis of the hand group.

Angela Donaghy

Angela started working for the Trust in 2002 as an Occupational Therapy assistant and has experience working on the wards at Accrington Victoria Hospital and Emergency department.  Angela has worked as an Occupational Therapy Technical instructor in rheumatology since 2009 and currently splits her role between the Rheumatology and Hand Therapy teams. Her role involves supporting the Occupational Therapist, completing activity of daily living assessments both in the hospital and in the patients home and also making and adapting bespoke soft splints for the hand. 



Joseph Loades

Physiotherapy team leader rheumatology. Joseph qualified as a Chartered physiotherapist from Manchester metropolitan university in 2013 . Joseph worked as a rotational physiotherapist at Salford royal foundation trust before securing a specialist rheumatology role at Trafford general hospital in 2015. Joseph secured a team leader rheumatology post in 2017 at east Lancashire hospital trust and leads a team including one specialist physiotherapist and a rotational physiotherapist.

Outside interests include playing football, resistance training and watching tv box sets


Simon Walker

Simon qualified in 2009 from the University of Salford with a degree in Podiatry with a Post graduate certificate in Lower limb assessment and rehabilitation.
He has worked at ELHT for 7 years and has a specialist interest in Rheumatology

Useful links

Arthritis Care

Arthritis Care offers practical and emotional support to help people learn to manage their condition more effectively, including guidance for adults and children receiving treatment with biologic drugs.


Arthritis Care

Floor 4, Linen Court, 


10 East Road

London N1 6AD

Tel: 020 7380 6500

Email: info@arthritiscare.org.uk

Professional confidential advice line: freephone 0808 800 4050 (Weekdays 10.00am - 4.00pm)

Email: advice lines@arthritiscare.org.uk


The Source

The Source is Arthritis Care's advice line for young people aged 25 and under.

Freephone advice line 0808 808 2000 (Weekdays 10.00am - 4.00pm)

Email: TheSource@arthritiscare.org.uk


Arthritis Research UK

Arthritis Research UK provides a comprehensive range of free information booklets and leaflets relating to musculoskeletal problems.


Arthritis Research UK

Copeman House

St Mary's Gate


Derbyshire S41 7TD

Tel: 0300 790 0400

Email: enquiries@arthritisresearchuk.org


Lupus UK

Lupus UK is the only national registered charity supporting people with systemic lupus and discoid lupus and assisting those approaching diagnosis.



National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS)

The NRAS helpline team can provide detailed, written information to callers on a variety of subjects. Articles can be accessed on their website and they have a nationwide network of medical advisors who can answer specific, detailed medical queries.


National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS)

Unit B4 Westacott Business Centre

Westacott Way 

Littlewick Green

Maidenhead SL6 3RT

Patients can also speak to volunteers who are able to answer specific enquiries.

Tel: freephone 0800 298 7650 (Monday to Friday 9.30am - 4.30pm)

Email: enquiries@rheumatoid.org.uk


National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS)

The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society is a charity working for people affected by ankylosing spondylitis in the UK.



Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA)

The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance supports and advises people affected by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.


Raynaud's and Scleroderma Association

The Raynaud's and Scleroderma Association is a national charity and self-help organisation, committed to supporting people who have these conditions and their carers.


Reynauds and Scleroderma Association

112 Crewe Rd 


Cheshire ST8 2JA

Tel: 01270 872776

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