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If you have a condition affecting your joints, bones and muscles, our rheumatology service can help diagnose and treat you, helping you regain the ability to live your life normally.

The rheumatology service includes doctors, specialist nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and podiatrists.  Together we diagnose and treat patients with many different diseases.  We may also see you if you have a complex autoimmune inflammatory disorder that may not necessarily cause joint pain or connective tissue diseases.

To make a diagnosis we will talk to you about your symptoms, examine you, and often arrange tests which may include blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans.

Once we have reached a diagnosis, we will support you in deciding which treatment(s) are likely to help manage your condition.  These treatments might include medications, such as painkillers, anti-inflammatories, steroids or treatments to control your condition which are known as DMARDs or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

Sometimes we may give treatments by injection and the team will explain the reasons for this if needed.  Non-drug therapies, support and education are provided by our multidisciplinary team depending on your needs.

We like to see you as early as possible because we know that early treatment can lead to better patient outcomes in the longer term.

Sometimes we need to involve other specialists or services to support you in managing your condition, for example the pain management team, orthopaedics or other medical specialists.

We aim to enable you in living as normal a life as possible with your rheumatological condition, and to support you in making decisions about your healthcare and treatments at every step.


Our Team

The rheumatology team consists of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and podiatrists (open the drop-down box to see how to access each member of the team).


If your consultant has asked you to ring them, please do so through the secretarial team:

Dr Matthew Bridges (m)

Dr Sanjay Pathare (m)       Darlington Memorial Hospital: 01325 743 836


Dr Peter Haynes (m)          University Hospital of North Durham: 0191 333 2583

Dr Hanaa Rajabally (f)


Nurses/Pharmacy Team and Advice Line

The nursing/pharmacy team will review how active your condition is and provide treatment according to your need, under the guidance of your consultant and with the help of the wider rheumatology team.

We run a telephone advice line service between Monday and Friday from 9am and 5pm, you can ring us at any time, you will need to leave a message along with your contact details, date of birth or NHS number and we will return your call within 48 hours.

The advice line number is: 01325 743 881



Many of the medications we give you will need to be prescribed by us until such time as your disease is controlled enough for the GP to take over.  Because we post your prescriptions, you need to give us two weeks' notice.

If you receive prescriptions from the rheumatology department instead of your GP, please call the advice line above or email the secretaries via or



Podiatrists specialise in foot and ankle disorders and diseases.

Podiatrists provide comprehensive assessments that include examination of the foot structure, mechanics and gait (walking pattern), with evaluation of the foot neurovascular systems (nerves and blood vessels).

Many rheumatological foot problems can be managed with appropriate advice on footwear, exercises and insole management, the podiatrists work with orthotists to provide specialist and bespoke footwear and insoles.

How to Access your Podiatrist

Please ask your rheumatology nurse or consultant if you would like to be referred to podiatry.


Physiotherapy Team

If you have an inflammatory condition or other rheumatological conditions, physiotherapy can be of benefit. The role of the physiotherapists is to assess, treat and help you to self-manage your arthritis. Treatment would include advice and exercises to preserve your joints, ease pain, maintain your function and help with your mobility.

If you have a flare up of your arthritis and are struggling with daily activities then physiotherapy can help. You can self-refer to physiotherapy by ringing your local physiotherapy department.


Occupational Therapy Team

If you are struggling with daily activities because of your condition then occupational therapy could help to improve your function and maintain your independence. The team will work with you to identify your priorities and find ways for you to continue doing the things you want and need to do day to day.

Some of the activities the often assist with include: improving hand function, employment issues, fatigue, sleep hygiene, bathing, home adaptations and splinting provision. However, the focus of your treatment would depend on your personal needs and goals.

Please ask your rheumatology nurse or consultant if you would like to be referred to occupational therapy.

'In recent times, I have utilised admissions to Richardson for respite direct from my fracture clinic, even at weekends. I have never worked anywhere with this efficiency before - it is reassuring and invaluable for the patient.'

Patient, Lowson / Starling Wards, Richardson Hospital