News from the nations

Northern Ireland

Orthopaedic physiotherapy quality improvement supported by Versus Arthritis - ‘Let’s Move’ funding supporting physiotherapy prehabilitation for patients awaiting knee arthroplasty

The Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Team based in Musgrave Park Hospital (Belfast HSCT) successfully secured a grant from the Versus Arthritis ‘Let’s Move’ fund to help pilot a vital programme working with patients on their knee arthroplasty waiting list, to deliver a prehabilitation programme.

Evidence shows that prehabilitation for patients awaiting surgery (in particular arthroplasty):

  • improves functioning before surgery
  • prepares for the physical challenges faced following surgery
  • improves psychological outcomes
  • reduces hospital readmissions and post op length of stay
  • reduces overall health care costs.

Interventions initially included:

  • physical exercises
  • psychological input, and
  • nutritional input to inform and support prior to their surgery.

Clinical Lead Physiotherapists Carmel Tierney ( and Kelly Carolan ( led this work with their team and worked with Versus Arthritis on the ground in Northern Ireland to complement the support for these patients in the community.

A range of outcome measures were used including:

  • EQ5D
  • Pain Self Efficacy Questionnaire
  • AROM goniometry – knee flexion & extension
  • Sit to Stand (No. of repetitions in 1 minute)
  • Timed 10m walk test
  • Isokinetic muscle strength – knee flexion and extension
  • Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS)

Results included:

  • 91% of service users had improvement in timed 10m walk test
  • 91% of service users had an improvement in knee flexion
  • 91% of service users had an improvement in isokinetic quads strength

Participant feedback included:

‘Please keep this scheme going, especially face to face. Other patients were able to give invaluable information about their knee surgery. The staff are fantastic, very helpful, supportive & knowledgeable. Thanks so much for letting me take part’.

Clinical Team Lead Physiotherapist Carmel Tierney commented: ‘I feel this project is only at the beginning of its journey. With long-term funding and support, prehabilitation for patients awaiting arthroplasty, along with our already well established “Get Fit, Get Ready for Surgery” programme, would be invaluable to our patients.’

You can also find out more about the Versus Arthritis physical activity resources, including our surgery toolkit plan.

Supporting people with arthritis – Northern Ireland’s physical activity offer - How our regional officers have been linking with local communities to help patients be active

Our Together Versus Arthritis work in Northern Ireland has continued to expand in supporting people with arthritis to be more physically active in their localities – our aims include people with arthritis having improved physical and emotional wellbeing, undertaking more physical activity, and feeling physically healthier and happier.

Our Regional Officers have been holding free physical activity days in their areas, offering a range of options such as Chi Me (Tai Chi inspired movement), Boccia (accessible form of bowls) and drumming based activity. These are peer led by our volunteers trained in MSK friendly physical activity. We have also linked with health professionals to pair these with information sessions from physiotherapists on site to create a really rounded offer.

Participant feedback:

  • Very interesting day; I really enjoyed it would like to do more with Versus Arthritis.
  • So many great ideas for exercising, it was great fun and was very informative.
  • Today made me realise that gentle but consistent exercise is more beneficial than full on exercise. I learned so much more on pain management than I ever knew.
  • I really enjoyed the exercising and the information from the physiotherapist; today was excellent.
  • The social aspect of today was very good, I enjoyed all of the activities and would love to continue with them in person with others, perhaps in a support Group.

We’re developing physical activity opportunities within the Western, South Eastern and Belfast areas as well as a range of online options – you can find out more about these and how to refer your patients by contacting Lisa Carlisle ( Belfast area), Lynn Heatley ( South Eastern area) or Susan Gilchrist ( Western area).


Joint Creativity Exhibition – Art Write Us – The self-management art programme and exhibition of artwork by young people aged 10 to 18 in Scotland

For the past year, young people have been working on the exhibition content, exploring their conditions and lives through art. We held one day workshops as well as an Art
Camp in north Scotland, all exploring conditions and self-management through art.

Our annual Joint Creativity art exhibition theme for this year was based around creative writing and was titled "Art Write Us".

We work with the young people to come up with a theme, and then plan activities around the theme as well as the art activities and mediums they would like to try out. This has ranged from graffiti art, embroidery, paint, and sculpture.

The young people have created comic books, poems, and wellbeing decision makers, alongside some other art pieces. Through the art workshops and events, the young people explore living with rheumatic conditions, self-management, and more importantly, what actually makes them, them!

In March, the exhibition opened in Edinburgh for five days and had over 200 visitors. Alongside the general public, we had health professionals, four Members of the Scottish Parliament and the young people, families and their friends visit.

The visitors were all overwhelmed by the young peoples’ artwork, and how they communicated the way their lives were impacted by their conditions. The exhibition is always a really special way for the young people to share their lives, conditions and experiences with those around them.

In 2024, we will be celebrating the 10th year of our Art Project, and hope to showcase the previous exhibitions alongside a brand new one for 2024.

We are planning to expand the Self-Management Art project across the UK, to enable more young people to take park and explore their conditions and lives through art.

If you would like more information on our arts project, and how to get young people involved, then please email

We also have a limited number of our 2023 exhibition publications available, so if you would like one sent out, please get it touch.

You can see some of the artwork on our Scotland social media pages:

You can also visit our 2020 and 2021 online art exhibitions.

Listen to Our Conditions, Our lives podcast which was part of the 2020 exhibition.


Free education courses for Welsh healthcare professionals

Continuous education and training are vital for healthcare professionals to deliver optimal care to patients. In Wales, we are excited to deliver our Core Skills Education package, a transformative initiative aimed at enhancing arthritis and MSK care.

These courses will equip you with the necessary expertise to support individuals living with arthritis. They are RCGP accredited and delivered by experienced healthcare professionals with knowledge of the Welsh NHS landscape.

Our courses are tailored to the needs of healthcare professionals, and we have an array of course choices. For instance, the course “Is it inflammatory joint disease or Fibromyalgia syndrome?” delves into the complexities of accurate diagnosis, enabling professionals to differentiate between these conditions and provide appropriate care. Additionally, the course “Managing Chronic Pain in Primary Care” equips professionals with strategies to address the unique challenges associated with chronic pain management. These are just two examples of the courses available at Versus Arthritis.

The Core Skills education courses emphasise interactive and collaborative learning approaches and promote critical thinking and practical application of knowledge. Moreover, these opportunities foster collaboration and networking amongst healthcare professionals, ensuring a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to arthritis and MSK care.

If you’d like to find out more about the courses available or book your place, or book a group teaching session then please contact Danielle Welsh (Professional Engagement Manager for Wales):