Health Education England, working across the East of England: Rheumatology

Rheumatology is a medical specialty which focuses patient management and research on the manifestations of musculoskeletal disease. Given the origin and aetiology of musculoskeletal disease, the subject matter is necessarily wide.

Conditions which are managed and researched by rheumatologists include autoimmune connective tissue and joint diseases (for example. rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus), mechanical and degenerative joint diseases (for example osteoarthritis and disorders of articular cartilage), muscle and tendon disorders, sports injuries, disorders manifest by pain and conditions of bone (for example osteoporosis).

Rheumatologists have the opportunity to develop sub-specialist interests, in addition to undertaking General Medicine duties, through dual accreditation in Medicine and Rheumatology.

Rheumatology attracts basic science immunologists and cell biologists interested in (chronic) inflammation research. Arguably the most frequent clinical manifestation and major clinical consequence of chronic inflammation is either autoimmune joint or connective tissue disease. Similarly, bone biologists can appropriately develop relevant clinical links through Rheumatology. Inflammation and bone research scientists wishing to train in a clinical specialism might reasonably choose to train clinically in Rheumatology within the National Clinician Scientist Training Scheme.

Rheumatology out-patient work is extremely varied. There are opportunities to practise a variety of practical skills including joint and soft-tissue and epidural injections. Rheumatologists invariably need to be skilled clinicians, keen on diagnostic dilemmas and stimulated by complex medical disease. They are often the most appropriate medical specialists to 'orchestrate' the long-term holistic care of patients with challenging multisystem disorders.

ST 3+Training Programme in Rheumatology

The programme is provided according to the requirements for generic medical training as laid out by the GMC and following the (ST3+) JRCPTB Rheumatology assessment blueprint and curriculumThe training is based in: Basildon, Bury St EdmundsCambridgeChelmsfordColchester, Hemel HempsteadHuntingdonIpswichLuton, NorwichPeterboroughSouthendStevenage and Watford. There are currently 19 posts for trainees across the region.

When a trainee is appointed, a rotation is constructed for the trainee taking into consideration training needs, geography  and availability of posts on the rotation so trainees can predict where they will need to be over the next few years. Training is usually completed with two to four moves over the training period. However, training post rotations cannot be 'set in stone' at the outset and a degree of flexibility is sometimes required.

The rotation provides training as either a single specialty or with general medicine (dual accreditation). The training opportunities among the hospitals on the training scheme are broad.

There is a regular teaching programme for trainees with sessions every two months arranged at a central location.

Essential Qualifications for Entry
Desirable qualities for training in Rheumatology
  • A broad general medical interest and knowledge base
  • Knowledge and interest in the pathophysiology of auto-inflammatory diseases and metabolic bone disease as well as in biomechanics
  • Ability to communicate effectively with patients
  • Ability to communicate effectively with medical colleagues and paramedical specialists (for example physiotherapists, occupational therapists, specialist nurses)
  • Capacity for working effectively within a team of professionals
  • Capacity to be cognisant of the consequences of chronic disease and show sufficient empathy with that situation in applying knowledge and skills
  • A commitment to life-long education
Useful Contacts and References

Specialty Training Committee Chair

Dr Sandeep Dahiya:


Training Programme Director

Dr Frances Borg 


Trainee Representative

Dr Phil Yee;





Rheumatology Curriculum


General Internal Medicine Curriculum



The Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) takes place each year at the beginning of July. This normally covers both rheumatology and general medicine, with the only exception being the Penultimate Year Assessments (PYAs) where the appraisals are separated. Trainees should ensure that their e-portfolio is up-to-date with the required number of assessments at least 2 weeks prior to the ARCP to enable the panel to review the evidence before the meeting.


Rheumatology ARCP Decision Aid


General Internal Medicine ARCP Decision Aid


Reading List

Useful websites:

British Society for Rheumatology (BSR)

European League against Rheumatism (EULAR)

American College of Rheumatology

Arthritis Research UK

National Osteoporosis Guideline Group (NOGG)