Show services list


Under COVID-19: Should I shield or socially distance myself?

You may already have had a letter from your healthcare advisor (GP or hospital specialist) with COVID-19 advice. Guiding you on the need to shield or socially distance depends on the types of medical conditions you have and the medications you are taking and is unique to each person.  Some organisations such as the British Society of Rheumatology have also published scoring schemes to help calculate if you are moderate or high risk and therefore should socially isolate or shield.

Rheumatology staff and patients waving for World Arthritis Day

Rheumatology staff and patients waving for World Arthritis Day

The Rheumatology Department deals with problems that involve bones, muscle, joints and tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone or other skeletal tissues). Many of the problems we deal with occur because of problems with the immune system (autoimmunity).

We are recognised internationally for our expertise in many rheumatic conditions. These include lupus (a disease where the body attacks itself by the production of abnormal antibodies), vasculitis (disorder of the blood vessels with inflammation), rheumatoid arthritis and early inflammatory arthritis. Our department also sees patients referred from other hospitals.

Our award-winning team carries out much research with the Academic Unit of Rheumatology at the University of Birmingham. We have a longstanding research interest in the patients’ journey from onset of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis to getting started on treatment as well as the causes of rheumatoid arthritis and the reasons why it damages the joints.

We play an active role in teaching and training medical students, nurses and physiotherapists, who may be present in some of our clinics.

For more information about disabled access for this service, please click here.


Prof C Buckley
Dr D Carruthers, Head of Undergraduate Academy
Dr SR Elamanchi, Clinical Governance Lead
Prof C Gordon, Research Lead
Dr K Grindulis, Speciality Lead
Dr F Khattak, Senior Academy Teacher
Prof K Raza
Dr RD Situnayake, Associate Medical Director
Dr Vijay Rao, Research Fellow

Staff Nurse R Boey
Senior Nurse S Butler, Unit Manager
Sister E Daley
Sister A Deeming, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Staff Nurse C Hooper
Sister C Johnson
G McKen, Health Care Assistant
Sister J Mynett, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Staff Nurse L Neale
P Walters, Health Care Assistant

Research Staff
Sister K Kumar, Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow
Sister R Gilman
B Asfaw, Charge Nurse
Dr R Stack, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
A Slater, Clinical Trials Practitioner

Birmingham Behçet’s Syndrome National Centre of Excellence
Dr RD Situnayake
Dr D Carruthers
Prof P Murray, ophthalmology
Miss P Stavrou, ophthalmology
Mr J Hamburger, oral surgery
Mrs A Richards, oral surgery
Sister D Mitton, Centre Manager and Clinical Nurse Specialist

Support Staff
Rheumatology has its own team of dedicated secretarial support on both the City and Sandwell sites. The City Rheumatology Department also has its own medical records staff. The research team are supported by dedicated admin and clerical staff.

N Malloy (City)
Kathryn Dunn (Sandwell)
Occupational Therapy
Karen Ricketts


We provide services for patients with all forms of musculoskeletal disease. Our outpatient clinic at City Hospital is based in the Maternity Building. Outpatient clinics are also run at Sandwell and Rowley Regis Hospitals, Victoria Heath Centre in Smethwick and Neptune Park, Tipton. We also run clinics at Ashfurlong Medical Centre in Sutton Coldfield.

This allows patients to choose where they receive treatment. A modern computer system links all sites and allows easy access to results.

There are Day Case Units on both the City and Sandwell sites, where patients attend for treatment. Our well-trained nurses make sure that the best possible care is provided for you and make your brief stay comfortable.

Our outpatient services link seamlessly with our day cases, inpatient and investigation. We have also introduced an Asian-language helpline and offer ready access to interpreters.

Lupus Clinic

In 2005 our Lupus Clinic at City Hospital became a Lupus UK Centre of Excellence, the first in the UK. Our innovative, research-driven team provides the highest standard of care with a friendly, patient-centred approach.

Early Arthritis Clinics

Our Early Arthritis Clinics are located at both City and Sandwell Hospitals. Patients with the onset of inflammation in the joints will be seen quickly in these clinics. The diagnosis is confirmed using state-of-the art tests. Patients are offered drug treatments or other treatments like physiotherapy. The clinics link with patient support groups and local, national and international research projects.

Vasculitis Clinic

We have a Vasculitis Clinic at City Hospital for dealing with inflammation of the blood vessels. This is a complex condition and may occur as part of another illness or as a primary condition. Our Vasculitis Clinic has specialists with long-standing interest and experience in these disorders. The clinic links with patient support groups, along with local and national research projects. The service is also supported by excellent imaging facilities (x-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI) and immunology services. We have clinical support from many other colleagues across the Trust and run parallel clinics with renal services

Other rheumatology clinics include:

  • Connective Tissue – City and Sandwell Hospitals
  • Osteoporosis (weak bones) – Sandwell Hospital
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (chronic disease of the skeleton) – City Hospital
  • Hands – Sandwell Hospital
  • Nurse-led rheumatology – City and Sandwell Hospitals

Birmingham Behçet’s Syndrome National Centre of Excellence 

A specialist clinic at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre (BMEC), where people with Behçet’s syndrome can be seen by consultants from different specialties on the same day, rather than having to attend different appointments. The core services include rheumatology, ophthalmology and oral medicine, with additional input from specialities such as neurology, dermatology and gastroenterology.

Doctors from the BMEC and the rheumatology department at City Hospital staff the clinic, as well as oral medicine doctors from Birmingham Dental Hospital. The clinic is currently held twice a week, on Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust is one of only three trusts in the country to offer a clinic of this kind. The centre was funded by NHS Specialised Services Commissioning following a successful bid from the Behçet’s Syndrome Society, in partnership with doctors specialising in the disease from centres in London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Dr Deva Situnayake, clinical lead for the Birmingham Behçet’s Syndrome National Centre of Excellence, can be contacted on 0121 507 4243 or email


Patients are often referred to physiotherapy for advice and exercises to help manage pain. The treatments can improve joint movement, strengthen muscles, improve posture and help patients cope with the activities of daily living. We can also arrange physiotherapy closer to your home or work where possible. Patients may also receive hydrotherapy (using water to help with pain relief) at Sandwell Hospital.

The Sandwell site offers a self-referral service and telephone advice line. Referred patients are seen within 48 hours.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with people who have difficulties managing their day-to-day activities, such as washing and dressing. We can help patients adapt their movement of painful joints to reduce strain, as well as devising resting schemes and ways to conserve physical energy.

Our team can see patients at hospital or at home. They will also work with the housing or social services departments of your local council if home adaptations are needed.


Where necessary we can supply and fit external devices to correct and protect joints, such as special footwear for patients, which can reduce pain and improve the function of arthritic feet. There is an advanced centre for foot care at Lyng Health Centre in West Bromwich. The clinic runs in parallel with consultant outpatient clinics.


We also offer a blood testing service (phlebotomy) in the rheumatology outpatient area at City Hospital. This service is available Monday to Friday 9.30am – 12noon and 2 – 4pm (except Wednesday and Friday afternoons). Patients can also go to the Birmingham Treatment Centre between 8am and 5pm. Patients at Sandwell Hospital attend the phlebotomy department in the main Outpatient area. Phlebotomy is also performed at Rowley Regis Hospital and a number of GP surgeries

Travel and vaccination advice

It is important to tell your rheumatologist if you are taking or considering a long trip abroad. If you are taking injections we will discuss the possibility of changing this to tablets for the duration of your trip. If you are having regular blood tests, we will need to discuss how this will happen. You may need a letter with guidelines on drug monitoring from the Rheumatology Department to take with you.

All other advice will be given on an individual basis. If you are on certain rheumatology drugs, live vaccines should not be taken eg yellow fever. Other kinds of vaccines can be taken, but please check with us first.

Patient Stories

Please feel free to share your experiences of this service. Please e-mail your views to


Birmingham Behçet’s Syndrome National Centre of Excellence

Dr Deva Situnayake, clinical lead for the Birmingham Behçet’s Syndrome National Centre of Excellence, can be contacted on 0121 553 1831 or email

Back to Services