Professor Helen Foster
Prof of Paediatric Rheumatology


Helen Foster trained originally in adult medicine, adult rheumatology and subsequently in general paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology. She leads active clinical and educational research programmes focussing on identifying barriers to specialist care, and has developed novel educational tools to facilitate earlier diagnosis and referral. There are numerous research collaborations at international level and an active clinical research portfolio within the NIHR. She is a champion of best practice and an advocate for 'right child, right place, right treatment, right time'. She has represented paediatric rheumatology at a national level for NHS England Specialist Commissioning and contributed to NICE guidance relevant to the specialty.


Trained in adult rheumatology and subsequently in general paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology. Clinical Fellowship Paediatric Rheumatology, Vancouver, 1992-3.

Current Roles and Responsibilities

Academic lead paediatric rheumatology Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust  

Co-Chair WHO Global Task Force Musculoskeletal Strategy for Children and Young People - Global Musculoskeletal Alliance Bone and Joint Decade 

Previous roles

Scientific and Founding member Arthritis Research UK/MCRN Paediatric Rheumatology Clinical Studies Group (initiative of Medicines for Children Research Network and Arthritis Research UK to develop research strategy for paediatric rheumatology in the UK) - 2009-2014

British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology Board 2007-2013

Paediatric Rheumatology European Society Training and Education Committee - UK representative 2007-2013

Associate Editor Rheumatology 2008-2014

Clinical Reference Group Paediatric Medicine representing rheumatology - NHS England 2012-2015

Royal College Paediatrics and Child Health Specialist Advisory Committee (CSAC Rheumatology) - sequential roles as Training Advisor, Quality Advisor, Chair - from 2002-2015

Chair EULAR PRES Task Force  - Recommendations for Transition in paediatric rheumatology 2014-2016

North East and North Cumbria Speciality Lead Paediatrics Clinical Research Network (NIHR) 2014-2017 


MBBS (Newcastle) Hons 1985
MRCP 1988
MD 1991
DCH 1995
FRCP 2000
Cert Med Ed 2002

Previous Positions

Arthritis Research Campaign Clinical Senior Lecturer Paediatric Rheumatologist (2001 - 2007)
NHS Consultant Rheumatologist (1996 - 2001), Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust
Arthritis Research Campaign Junior Research Fellowship (1989-1991)

Honours and Awards

Innovation in Rheumatology - Educational research in rheumatology awarded to Newcastle Educational research group - 2007. Award funded by Abbott pharmaceuticals 

National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) Patient in Focus award - Independence weekends for adolescents with rheumatic disease awarded to Newcastle paediatric rheumatology team - 2005

"Moving Forwards" - Team award for rheumatology services 2004. Award funded by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

Hospital Doctor Finalist - 2001

Academic secretary

Janet Herdman

Institute of Cellular Medicine

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Musculoskeletal Research Group M2.124,

2nd Floor Leech Building

Newcastle University, UK

0191 208 8936

Research Interests

The clinical research programme focusses on understanding the barriers and drivers to paediatric rheumatological care and developing educational tools and service delivery to faciliate earlier diagnosis and referral to specialist care. Strategies to be implemented in low resource health care environments.

The basic science programme focusses on understanding of biochemical and immunological mechanisms of joint damage and their role as prognostic indicators in early arthritis.

There are also numerous clinical research collaborations within the University, and national and international levels inciuding Standards of Care, Best Practice, clinical trials and Registries. 

We have an active NIHR portfolio with collaborations within Newcastle University, nationally and internationally including Registries, clinical trials and Educational strategies.

Selected publications 

Goff I, Jandial S, Wise E, Boyd D, Foster HE. Towards a paediatric musculoskeletal curriculum for primary care 2014 in press

McErlane F, Foster HE, Davies R, Lunt M, Watson K, Symmons D, Hyrich KL. Biologic Treatment Response amongst adults with JIA; Results from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register.Rheumatology (Oxford) 2013; 52:1905-1913.

Goff I, Rowan A, Bateman BJ, Foster HE. Poor sensitivity of musculoskeletal history in children. Arch Dis Child. 2012 July;97:7:644-6

Smith E, Molyneux E, Heikens GT,  Foster HE. Acceptability and practicality of pGALS in screening for rheumatic disease in Malawian children. Clin Rheumatol 2012; 31: 647-653

Foster HE, Kay LJ, May CR, Rapley TR. pREMS – pediatric regional musculoskeletal examination for school aged children. Arthritis Care & Research 2011; Nov; 63(11) : 1503-7

Davies K, Cleary AG, Hutchinson E, Foster HE, Baildam E. British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology Standards of Care for children and young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Rheumatology 2010, 49(7), 1406-1408

Jandial S, Rapley T, Foster HE. Current teaching of paediatric musculoskeletal medicine within UK medical schools – a need for change. Rheumatology 2009;48(5), 587-590.

Jandial S, Myers A, Wise E, Foster HE. Doctors Likely to Encounter Children with Musculoskeletal Complaints Have Low Confidence in Their Clinical Skills. Journal of Pediatrics 2009;154(2), 267-271.

Foster HE, Eltringham MS, Kay LJ, Friswell M, Abinun M, Myers A. Delay in access to appropriate care for children presenting with musculoskeletal symptoms and ultimately diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Arthritis Care and Research 2007; 57(6), 921-927.

Foster HE, Kay LJ, Friswell M, Coady D, Myers A. Musculoskeletal screening examination (pGALS) for school-age children based on the adult GALS screen. Arthritis Care and Research 2006;55(5), 709-716. 

Undergraduate (MBBS)

Personal Tutor, Educational supervisor SSC modules paediatric rheumatology. Tutor child health and general paediatrics. Tutor Chronic Illness and Disability Rotation.

Postgraduate roles 

Postgraduate teaching for General paediatrics, adult Rheumatology, paediatric rheumatology and Primary Care colleagues (locally, regionally and and nationally). Educational Supervisor to Higher Specialist Trainees in paediatric rheumatology.

Founder of Paediatric Musculoskeletal Matters -

PMM launched November 2014, as a free evidence based e-resource. Learning outcomes set at the level of the graduating doctor with additional content relevant to primary care, paediatrics, orthopaedics, emergency medicine. NICE approved 2016.