Name and Position

Dr Karl Gaffney

Contact Details

Main Telephone Number:01603 289670
Fax Number: 01603 287004


Consultant Rheumatologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Norwich Medical School

Special clinical interests: ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis

Research interests: epidemiology, imaging and therapeutics of spondyloarthropathies

Professional profile: 

Dr Karl Gaffney (MB, BCh, BAO Hons, FRCPI, FRCP) has been a Consultant Rheumatologist in Norwich since 1995 where he has established a large multidisciplinary service for over 1000 patients with axial spondyloarthritis (including ankylosing spondylitis). He is an honorary reader at Norwich Medical School, chair of the medical advisory committee and trustee of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (, founder member and treasurer of BRITSpA (, chair of the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) axial SpA Biologics Guidelines Committee, and an invited member of the Assessment of Spondyloarthritis International Society ( and the ARUK SpA Clinical Studies Group. He has also represented the BSR and NASS at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) appraisal of biological therapies since 2007. He was Rheumatology Service Director from 2008 until 2016, Director of Postgraduate Education in Norwich between 1999 and 2005, and Director of Rheumatology Training, Eastern Deanery between 2001 and 2007.

With NASS he has co-developed primary and secondary care educational programmes for healthcare professionals including Back Pain Seminars, Meeting in a Box, Back in Focus, Solving Spondyloarthritis and Back Pain Plus. These initiatives have been awarded national and European awards for excellence in healthcare communication.

His current research interests include epidemiology, dose optimisation and extra-articular manifestations of axial SpA. He oversees a large clinical trials programme and collaborates with other national and international centres. He has published more than 100 papers and has been an invited speaker at national and international meetings.

Recent publications:

BSR Guideline – biologics for the treatment of axial spondyloarthritis (including ankylosing spondylitis). Hamilton L, Barkham N, Bhalla A, Brittain R, Jones G, Mackay K, Marshall D, Marzo-Ortega H, Murphy D, Riddell C, Sengupta R, Siebert S, Van Rossen L, Gaffney K. Rheumatology 2016 Aug 24. pii: kew223. [Epub ahead of print]

Comment on “Delay to Diagnosis in Axial SpA: Are We Improving in the UK?”

Sykes M, Doll H, Sengupta R, Gaffney K. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2016 July 19. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27436002. DOI: 10.1093/rheumatology/kew181

Poor awareness of inflammatory back pain and axial spondyloarthritis amongst secondary care specialists. Mathieson HR, Merashli M, Gaffney K, Marzo-Ortega  H. Clin Rheumatol. 2016 May 14. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:27180070 DOI:10.1007/s10067-016-3305-y

Does the co-existence of acute anterior uveitis and chronic back pain prompt primary care physicians to consider a diagnosis of axial SpondyloArthritis?  Maxwell A, Yates M, Everden P, Gaffney K.

Ann Rheum Dis. 2016 Apr;75(4):e18. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-208983. Epub 2016 Jan 20

Major histocompatibility complex associations of ankylosing spondylitis are complex and involve further epistasis with ERAP1.  Cortes A, Pulit SL, Leo PJ, Pointon JJ, Robinson PC, Weisman MH, Ward M, Gensler LS, Zhou X, Garchon HJ, Chiocchia G, Nossent J, Lie BA, Førre Ø, Tuomilehto J, Laiho K, Bradbury LA, Elewaut D, Burgos-Vargas R, Stebbings S, Appleton L, Farrah C, Lau J, Haroon N, Mulero J, Blanco FJ, Gonzalez-Gay MA, Lopez-Larrea C, Bowness P, Gaffney K, Gaston H, Gladman DD, Rahman P, Maksymowych WP, Crusius JB, van der Horst-Bruinsma IE, Valle-Oñate R, Romero-Sánchez C, Hansen IM, Pimentel-Santos FM, Inman RD, Martin J, Breban M, Wordsworth BP, Reveille JD, Evans DM, de Bakker PI, Brown MA. Nat Commun. 2015 May 21;6:7146. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8146

Correlation between clinical and MRI disease activity scores in axial spondyloarthritis. MacKay J, Aboelmagd S, Gaffney K. Clin Rheumatol. 2015 Sep;34(9):1633-8

Delay to Diagnosis in Axial SpA: Are We Improving in the UK? Sykes M, Doll H, Sengupta R, Gaffney K. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015; 54(12):2283-4

An open label, pilot, multi-centre, step-down, randomised controlled trial to examine whether etanercept 25mg once weekly is effective in maintaining a clinical response in patients with ankylosing spondylitis who have responded to 50mg once weekly – The ANSWES trial. Yates M, Hamilton LE, Elender F, Dean L, Doll H, MacGregor AJ, Thomas J, Gaffney K. J Rheumatol. 2015 Jul;42(7):1177-85

The prevalence of axial spondyloarthropathy in the UK: a cross-sectional cohort study. Hamilton L, Macgregor A, Toms A, Warmington V, Pinch E, Gaffney K. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

(2015) 16:392 DOI 10.1186/s12891-015-0853-2

Comment on: ‘Diagnostic delay in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis: results from the Danish nationwide DANBIO registry’ by Sorensen et al. Sykes M, Doll H, Gaffney K. ARD 2014:1. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-205589