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.

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: Advanced MSK Practioner/ Highly Specialised Rheumatology Physiotherapist, Salford Royal NHS TRUST.

Will is the lead rheumatology physiotherapist at Salford Royal Hospital. He works in an advanced practitioner role running the AHP-led spondyloarthritis service. He has an honorary position at the University of Manchester, teaching medical undergraduates and registrars and is also involved with the Rheumatology AHP MSc at Keele University. He is a founding member of ASSIGNw (research network of physiotherapists from the North West who have a special interest in AS).

Sue Gurden: Clinical Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist. Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner (Rheumatology) Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Sue manages Physiotherapy led and multi-disciplinary clinics implementing protocols and treatment pathways for people with Spondyloarthritis. Sue has received a warm welcome from the team since joining in 2011 and has been given the opportunity to work on exciting projects in the education of physiotherapists and medical practitioners nationally.

Claire Harris: Senior Physiotherapist, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust

Claire is the lead physiotherapist attending the weekly Consultant led Spondyloarthritis clinic. Currently AStretch Chair, Claire is a trustee of NASS and is a member of their medical advisory board. Claire has been a member of AStretch since its formation in 2001.

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.

Juliette O' Hea: Physiotherapist; Arthritis First

Juliette’s present business promotes exercise for people with arthritis in her local community. She was diagnosed with AS whilst studying to be a physiotherapist. As a founder member of AStretch and having first hand knowledge of the impact of the disease, has enabled Juliette to share her life experiences with the group. This has been an all round enriching experience.

Karen Irons: Team Leader for Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy at St Richard's Hospital, Chichester (Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.)

Also a private practitioner within industry, Karen was also one of the founder members of AStretch and is a tutor on the “AS Physiotherapy Assessment and Management” workshops. She feels her long association with this group has enabled her to remain up to date and share knowledge in a subject which is of special interest to her.

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.

Melanie Martin: Extended Scope Practitioner/ Clinical Specialist MSK Assessment/ Rheumatology, Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Fondation Trust

Melanie works within the "MCATTS" service at Guy's and St Thomas' she first became interested in AS when she attended an AStretch Course In Manchester 2010.Her particular interest has been self management and the role of exercise, which formed the basis of her masters degree research. She has since used her results to implement innovative programmes for this group of patients. She now divides her time working in both Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology Services.

Dr Jane Martindale: Extended Scope Physiotherapist / Therapy Research Lead, Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

Jane’s clinical practice mainly centres on AS. She also holds an Honorary Research position at Lancaster University. Jane has formed a research network of physiotherapists from the North West who have a special interest in AS. Jane has been a member of AStretch since 2009 and continues to work on projects in education of physiotherapists and health care professionals.

Louise Preston: Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner in Rheumatology and Clinical Lead for Rheumatology Therapy, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.

Louise manages the therapy team at both New Cross and Cannock Chase Hospitals. She is currently involved with the development of local treatment pathways for people with this condition. She has valued her time on the committee, she feels that this has given her the opportunity to develop and disseminate skills.

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).


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