Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia

Staff Profile

Professor Helen Foster




Helen 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 have been 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 adult rheumatology and subsequently general paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology

Clinical Fellowship Paediatric Rheumatology, Vancouver, 1992-3

Current Roles and Responsibilities

Clinical Faculty Newcastle University Medical School Malaysia from May 2018

Chair Paediatric Global Musculoskeletal Task Force from October 2017

Founder and Chief Editor Paediatric Musculoskeletal Matters -

Honorary Consultant Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Previous roles

Clinical academic lead paediatric rheumatology Newcastle University, UK until 2018

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

Clinical Reference Group Paediatric Medicine representing rheumatology - NHS England Specialist Commissioning 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

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 journal 2008-2014


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

Barbara Ansell Address - British Society for Rheumatology Annual Meeting 2018 

British Society for Rheumatology Best Model of Practice award 2018 - Rightpath - Paediatric Musculoskeletal Triage in the community. awarded to Newcastle University in partnership with Pennine MSK and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.

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 identifying, describing and understanding barriers and drivers to the 'right care' for children with musculoskeletal problems. Our work has developed within health care in the NHS and we are now developing strategies for the wider health care context in low and middle resource income countries working with stakeholders as co-partners.

Strategies for interventions include:

  • Identifying, describing and understanding the challenges in access to the right care 
  • Developing, piloting and evaluating evidence based educational resources targeting users involved in care pathways for children
  • Models of care to optimise interface working to deliver right care for children to facilitate earlier diagnosis and referral to specialist care as appropriate
  • Use of social media and technologies to facilitate dissemination of key messages to optimise reach and impact of our interventions 

We have numerous clinical research collaborations with academic institutions and at national and international levels. Our work has informed Standards of Care, Best Practice, and Models of Care.

Awarded BSR Best Model of Practice Award 2018 for Rightpath - Musculoskeletal Triage for children in the community. 

We have an active NIHR portfolio and are active collaborators with international clinical trials, cohort studies and Registries. 


Founder and Chief Editor 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. 
  • PMM International launched 2018 -  revised content with global partners to reflect health care around the world
  • PMM-Nursing launched 2017 and Royal College Nursing Endorsed 2018
e-learning modules and resources 
  • pGALS app (v2 2018) including multiple language translations
  • Newcastle University platform - e-modules with paediatric musculoskeletal focus and targeting medical students, primary care and paediatricians-
  • British Society for Rheumatology - e-modules for adult rheumatology focused on Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis 

Undergraduate (Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia campus): MBBS

  • Personal tutor, supervisor, examiner, lecturer

Postgraduate roles 

  • Postgraduate teaching (local, regional and nationally): general paediatrics, adult rheumatology, paediatric rheumatology and primary care  (locally, regionally and and nationally).
  • Educational Supervisor to Higher Specialist Trainees in paediatric rheumatology.