About Us

'AStretch was started in 2001 in response to the growing appetite amongst health professionals for knowledge regarding AS management'.

The name came from convergence of mutual aims:

A   Axial

S   Spondyloathritis

t    To teach clinicians, patients and the general public about AxSpA and it’s management

r    To play an active role in current and future research associated with AxSpA

e    To establish an up to date database of literature on AxSpA to ensure evidence based practice

t    To help advance the therapeutic management of AxSpA

c    To ensure holistic care of the psychological implications of AxSpA

h    To educate and help advance the hydrotherapy management of AxSpA

The principles of which were the foundation of the original AStretch course devised by this committee.

The original committee took these principles as a foundation for the first AStretch course booklet in management of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).
The AStretch Education course was very much based on the work of Jane Barefoot. Jane was a physiotherapist working at the Royal National Hospital for Rhematic Diseases in Bath. She was also the first physiotherapy advisor to National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS). She spent much of her professional career travelling around the world educating physiotherapists and patients alike with her enthusiasm for treating AxSpA with exercise

The Committee

AStretch meet up at least twice yearly, the primary purpose is one of networking and discussing best practice in the management of people with Axial Spondyloarthritis.

Ultimately, this results in planning and disseminating Education and support to Physiotherapist and other Professionals who work with this patient group.

The Committee members represent Physiotherapy and Academic departments across the U.K.

Hannah Chambers

Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner in Rheumatology, East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust

Hannah specialised in rheumatology in 2004 and currently works as an advanced practitioner in the NHS, with her other time spent working in general msk with an alternative NHS provider.  Her role involves working closely with the rheumatology multidisciplinary team and leading the rheumatology therapies team of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Alongside this, Hannah works with the msk team, supporting the rheumatology specific gym and pool services ensuring collaborative working.  Hannah's passion is for improving patient services and standards of care, both locally and nationally, in all areas of rheumatology and msk. 

Emily Clarke

Specialist Physiotherapist in Axial SpA, Bath

Emily is a Physiotherapist specialising in musculoskeletal health and Axial Spondyloarthritis. Emily has worked in UK healthcare for 20 years and on health projects in Nepal, China and Africa. Specialising in Rheumatology for the last 10 years, Emily has worked at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath until recently, delivering the residential self-management programme for axial SpA patients.

Emily has co-authored publications on sleep in axial SpA and is an active collaborator in axial SpA research with the University of Bath. Emily has worked closely with the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society(NASS) to deliver patient literature and online resources for self-management. Emily is committed to promoting the roles of Allied Health Professionals in the management of Axial Spondylarthritis.

Matt Daly

Job Title

biog to follow

Alasdair Davie

Highly Specialist Physiotherapist Rheumatology and Hydrotherapy Services NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Alasdair qualified as a physiotherapist from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2006 with an MSc Rehabilitation Science.  After completing his core rotations he gained experience working in senior and advanced practice roles across a range of musculoskeletal specialties including MSK Back Pain, Pain Management and General Practice. Since 2016 Alasdair has worked in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Hydrotherapy and Rheumatology AHP services.  Alongside the rheumatologist he provides specialist physiotherapy input at Axial Spondyloarthritis clinics in the Clyde sector of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 

Having recently completed an MSc in Advancing Healthcare Practice through The Open University Alasdair has a passion for leading healthcare improvement and transforming professional practice.  Alasdair has led on an evidence review and service evaluation for Hydrotherapy, development of electronic pathways for Hydrotherapy and Rheumatology AHP services and recently completed a consultation on the optimisation of virtual physiotherapy consultations in axSpA. In addition to being a chartered physiotherapist he is an avid tennis player, fan and qualified coach.  With a BSc in Physiology and Sports Science from Glasgow University in 2002 and having worked in professional tennis as a physiotherapist Alasdair hopes to bring enthusiasm from across his professional, educational and personal experiences to the AStretch committee.


Jenny Elkins

Job Title

biog to follow

Susimala Gaikwad

Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Rheumatology, Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby

Susi has established regular intensive Physiotherapy courses for patients with AS in the hospital setting She has been a member of the AStretch Steering Group since 2001 and has welcomed the opportunity of networking and sharing best practice.

Will Gregory

Consultant Physiotherapist, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

Will is employed at Consultant Physio level by the Rheumatology Department at Salford Royal Hospital. His role includes running the AHP-led Axial Spondyloarthritis service. He is a long-serving active member, and more recently chair of ASSIGNw (a research network of physiotherapists from the North West who have a special interest in AxSpA).
Will is a visiting lecturer in Advanced Practice at Manchester Met. Uni. He has an honorary position at the University of Manchester, teaching medical undergraduates and registrars and is also teaches on the Rheumatology AHP MSc and the ASPiRE courses at Keele University.
Will has a keen interest in developing rheumatology physiotherapy nationally, recently completing a national survey and is in the midst of creating a competency framework. He has also contributed to bsr projects. He sits on the embryonic "quality review service" for bsr. 

Heather Harrison

Senior Rheumatology Physiotherapist, York Hospital NHS Trust

Heather has developed pathways and services for patients with Spondyloarthritis. She works alongside a Rheumatology Consultant in the Inflammatory Back Pain clinic. Heather has been on the AStretch committee since 2001. It has been an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and hopefully raise the standards of physiotherapy care for patients with inflammatory back conditions.

Claire Jeffries

Physiotherapy Clinical Specialist in Hydrotherapy and Rheumatology for Solent NHS Trust

Claire leads services for Ankylosing Spondylitis in the Portsmouth District. Along with her AStretch colleagues Claire has been working with the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) to raise the awareness of the condition and the impact that it has on peoples’ lives. Claire facilitates the AStretch conferences and is a tutor for the AStretch workshops. She was one of the founder members of the AStretch committee.

Clare Longton

Advanced Practitioner Physiotherapist

Clare is an advanced practice physiotherapist specialising in Rheumatology with sub specialism in Axial Spondyloarthritis at both University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay at Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust. She has worked in MSK for 20 years with a merge and eventual full-time role in Rheumatology since 2011. This includes use of injection therapy and non-medical prescribing. She has project led on the development of Physiotherapist-led Axial Spondyloarthritis clinics across 2 Trusts, where she now has roles in diagnostics, follow ups and monitoring of patients with a range of spondyloarthrotides. She has also conducted validation projects for patient reported outcome measures leading to presentation of findings at international conferences. She has a passion for holistic provision of care and support for patient empowerment. The clinics service was recently GIRFT reviewed and achieved Exemplar status, which she is proud of for a small service and District Hospitals, but it identified upscaling potential for service expansion. The hope is to develop it further and the team, working with referring partners, on implementation of inflammatory back pain pathways across primary to secondary care to help reduced the delay to diagnosis in addition to flare management pathways. She is keen on use of digital technology to support patient monitoring and care in a way patients need it best.

She has been a member of the British Society of Rheumatology and active participant in the North West regional special interest group for several years, supporting research objectives and projects, culminating in co-authorship of a number of abstracts. Additionally, she has become a member of the recently developed Rheumatology Clinical Interest Group within the CSP, teaching on the MSc programme Rheumatology Module at the University of Central Lancashire and soon to become MSK Service NMP AHP lead at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust.

In addition to her work, Clare enjoys music, cooking, walking and when not being main carer to her father with dementia, running.

She looks forward to working with the AStretch committee to continue to develop agendas, research priorities, knowledge, and skills widely.

Melanie Martin

Senior Delivery Manager (Innovation) - Digital Care Models 
Transformation Directorate, NHSE/I

biog to follow...

Marie Therese McDonald

Rheumatology Physiotherapist in Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lecturer in Physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University

MT is a physiotherapist in Glasgow with a special interest in the assessment and treatment of people with Axial Spondyloarthritis. She is a PHD candidate, studying adherence to prescribed exercise programmes. She is passionate about education of health care professionals for the best care of patients. As a new member of AStretch she hopes to develop and disseminate skills.

Maureen (Mo) Motion

Extended Scope Physiotherapist in Inflammatory Rheumatology Conditions – Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I specialised in rheumatology in 1998 and am working as an extended scope physiotherapist in rheumatology in the NHS.

My role as lead physiotherapist for rheumatology at Newcastle Hospitals involves a first point contact clinic for AxSpA screening and diagnosis, working as part of the Newcastle Hospitals AxSpA clinics. In addition my role also involves the triaging of all rheumatology physiotherapy referrals and the management and assessment of the most complex cases.  Alongside this, my role involves the mentoring and supervision of other MsK physiotherapy staff on their rheumatology patients, in particular the AxSpA patients.

Over the last 10 years, a lot of time has been spent on educating physio staff on AxSpA assessment and treatment and the need for early diagnosis and our pathways have been streamlined and implemented to help achieve this.

I was recently asked to be an honorary lecturer at Northumbria University to help educate the year 2 physiotherapy students on AxSpA and rheumatology. I used the opportunity to spread the vital word about ‘delay to diagnosis.’

I am part of the Newcastle Hospitals team that managed to be awarded a place on the 1st cohort of Aspiring to Excellence- a prestigious programme run by NASS to help improve delay to diagnosis and improve management of AxSpA patients. Being so lucky to be involved in this programme, has given us a valuable opportunity to improve our AxSpA services for our Newcastle Hospitals patients and personally a fantastic CPD opportunity for myself.

Sue Voules

Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist, Ipswich Hospital

I have worked in Rheumatology for over 20 years. I work as a the clinical lead Physiotherapist for Rheumatology at Ipswich Hospital. I run weekly review clinics and I am currently setting up the  hospital’s first specialist service for patients with Axial spondyloarthroapthy. The aim of the service is to ensure continuity of care and to improve the education and long term management of this condition. I am passionate about people with axial SPa being given a positive outlook on the condition and being helped to continue to do the things that are important to them. I am involved in the education of Physiotherapists working in both primary and secondary care, and have established links with primary care to help in the recognition of early Axial Spa.

Away from work I am a keen cyclist and I have cycled from London to Paris and the first stage of the Tour de France.

Kate Weight

Senior Physiotherapist, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I am a senior physiotherapist at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital working in the MSK department seeing referrals from our rheumatology team. I am also an honorary lecturer at the University of East Anglia. My interest in axial spondyloarthropathy started as a junior physio in 1998 when I was on my MSK rotation and managed the physio rota for the NASS group at that time. After a year travelling and working in New Zealand I came back to work on a number of inpatient rotations at a large London teaching hospital. Fast forward to 2007 and I started working as band 7 at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital. I have given lectures locally and nationally on the subject of axial spondyloarthropathy and I enjoy keeping up-to-date with the latest research to ensure best practice. I currently run the local NASS hydrotherapy sessions. I attend a weekly pilates class and enjoy walking. I am excited to be joining astretch to continue to improve the care for patients with Axial SpA.

About us

AStretch is a not for profit organisation; our main aim is to provide a co-ordinated approach to the planning and delivery of education and best practice. Also to support physiotherapists working with people who have Axial Spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).


Email us on astretch@astretch.co.uk for general enquiries

comms@astretch.co.uk to submit features for peer review and consideration for website inclusion

education@astretch.co.uk for enquiries related to our courses or conference.

© Copyright 2024 ASTRETCHWeb Design By Toolkit Websites