Lancaster physiotherapist honoured by patients

The NASS group with Clare Longton (centre front) holding her award.
The NASS group with Clare Longton (centre front) holding her award.

A physiotherapist from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has been presented with a national award recognising the standard of care she offers to her patients.

Clare Longton, advanced physiotherapist at the RLI, won the Best National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) Branch Physiotherapist award in this year’s NASS Society Patient Choice Awards, after her patients nominated her for the care and support she gives to them.

Specialising in rheumatology and peripheral musculoskeletal physiotherapy (MSK), Clare has been a valued physiotherapist at the RLI for more than 15 years.

As part of her current role, Clare operates a ‘one stop clinic’ at the hospital where she provides medical monitoring, physiotherapy advice and manages the treatment plans for patients with axial spondyloarthritis/ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

In addition, Clare also runs the Lancaster group of NASS, which is the only UK registered charity dedicated to AS.

AS is a long-term condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed which can lead to fusion of the spinal joints, stiffness and pain.

When a patient undergoing treatment at the RLI is diagnosed with AS they receive information regarding the NASS group who meet on the first Monday of every month at Atkinsons Coffee House – The Hall in Lancaster.

The group is for patient’s diagnosed with AS or any other axial spondyloarthritis to join for a drink, advice and mat-based group exercise.

The attendees range in age from late 20s to over 70s, and the aim of the group is to encourage people to maintain healthy joint movement and postures.

Much to Clare’s surprise, the patients attending the NASS group joined forces and nominated her for the award.

Clare said: “I am extremely shocked and humbled to have won the award. My patients didn’t tell me they were nominating me for the award. The first I knew was when I received a letter inviting me to attend the award ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in London.

“As a child, I witnessed family members receiving physiotherapy, and this is what inspired me to join the health care profession.

“I would say that being a physiotherapist is the best job in the world as I get to meet people from all walks of life with huge variance in their degree of need.

“There is no greater feeling than helping motivate and rehabilitate someone so they can feel, move or cope better with their conditions or injuries. I love my profession and job and am happy to come to work every day and see what the day brings.”

Ian Steel, owner of Atkinson Coffee House in Lancaster, where the NASS group meets, said: “I nominated Clare for the award on behalf of the group because without her dedication, motivation and infectious enthusiasm the group wouldn’t exist.

“Clare has the ability to combine well-informed precision targeted exercise routines, with a healthy, happy dose of fun.

“On behalf of the group, I would like to say a huge thank you to Clare. We fully appreciate you giving up your time for us. We are so chuffed that you won this award, which is fully deserved and please keep up the good work. You are making a difference to us all.”

Clare was presented with her award at the Houses of Parliament on November 2.

Sue Smith, executive chief nurse, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by Clare, and it is extra special knowing that she was nominated by her patients.

“Our physiotherapy team provide such a valuable service to our patients. They help them to take control of their injury or condition and get back to their day to day lives as much as possible – a type of support that can’t be underestimated.

“Well done Clare – we are extremely proud of you, and you should be too.”