Rheumatology is the specialty of medicine, devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of Rheumatic diseases. Your GP may recommend that you see a Rheumatologist for conditions such as; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Lupus and related Connective Tissue Disease, Vasculitis, Gout, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis, Fibromyalgia,

The Rheumatology department at Bon Secours Hospital Tralee is led by expert Consultants Dr Peter Browne and Dr Caitriona Buckley. The Rheumatology department incorporates a multidisciplinary team of medical and nursing staff who provide high quality care to patients with musculoskeletal conditions. The Rheumatology service works closely with other departments within the hospital including; Pysiotherapy and Radiology for diagnosis and management of patients. We administer medication by injection/ and or infusion within the hospital. We also provide joint aspiration/ injection and soft tissue injections.  Biologic medication and other treatments are administered in the Infusion Clinic, which is a nurse led service held within the hospital. Rheumatology patients are referred to the Infusion Clinic by the Rheumatology Team.


Our Rheumatology team aims to-

  • Alleviate pain
  • Maintain and improve joint function
  • prevent disease progression
  • promoting self management for patients and their families. 



Dr. Caitriona Buckley Consultant Rheumatologist

Secretary : Helen O’ Carroll

Phone: 066 7164533FAX: 066 7164534


Dr. Peter Browne Consultant Rheumatologist

Phone: 01 6854887FAX: 01 6840009


Trish Cregan Rheumatology Nurse CNM2

Phone: 066 7149800 Bleep 01

E-Mail Address: trheumatology@bonsecours.ie


--------------------COVID 19 Queries--------------------

Many rheumatology patients have a high level of worry and anxiety about COVID19. Please be reassured that this is genuinely a mild illness in the vast majority of those who contract it. There are no specific data yet on rheumatology patients who have COVID19. There is an evolving database which is being added to daily from rheumatologists around the world but it may be some time before we know what the outcomes from that data are.

For Now Please Note The Following

  • If you are on medication for a rheumatic condition, continue to take it as normal. The COVID19 pandemic will likely last several months so taking a break from your treatment means you are at risk of a flare of your arthritis. Having a flare of arthritis means you are by definition at higher risk of infection as your immune system is disturbed. Also, having a flare of arthritis often means needing to take a course of steroids which will increase your risk of infection in addition to the increased risk of infection of the active arthritis.
  • If you have a cough, shortness of breath and fever or are strongly suspicious that you have an infection of any form we would always advise you to skip your arthritis treatment, seek appropriate medical help and then restart your arthritis medication once you are well again. In the case of COVID19, you should either, contact your GP or the national ambulance service by phone if you think you have symptoms, and follow their protocols. If you test positive then stay off your medication until you are well again. If you test negative, then stay off your medication until you feel well again. Do NOT stop your medication if you are well.
  • Rheumatology patients do NOT need to take extra precautions in excess of what is recommended by the HSE. You should observe strict handwashing practices, social distancing and remember that transmission can occur at home so ensure you wash your hands often at home and ensure your loved ones do also. If it is possible to work from home then do so. Don’t let your children have playdates as they could bring this into your home without you knowing it.
  • Do not take ‘immune boosters’ of any sort. If your arthritis is under control then your immune system is working well and is fit for purpose. Vitamin tablets or boosters will NOT protect you from COVID19. Good quality sleep, regular proper exercise and a healthy diet of minimally processed food are the fundamentals of health and apply as much now as they always do. Avoid sugary foods, avoid excessive use of the internet, turn off blue screens and devices in a timely fashion in the evening so that your body is ready for refreshing sleep.

Many patients have contacted us around a couple of specific issues as follows:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications: The advice here is that there is not sufficient data to recommend that they need to be avoided per se but if you are in need of something for fever or minor ailments then try paracetamol as a first-line treatment. If you are on regular anti-inflammatories then you can continue to take them.
  • Plaquenil: The role of Plaquenil in COVID19 is purely experimental. It is being used in Italy and Belgium (and possibly other countries) for patients with relatively severe symptoms in the inpatient hospital setting. There is no established role for Plaquenil in preventing COVID19 but if you are on it, keep taking it as usual.
  • Tocilizumab (RoActemra/Actemra): There have been some very promising results on this drug but from very small numbers of patients and this drug has only been looked at in patients who are extremely unwell with COVID19. The data is from both China and Italy and by no means is this drug a sure thing for COVID19. If you are on this drug for your arthritis, stay on it. There is no evidence that this will prevent COVID19. Switching to this drug from your established medication is a terrible idea as you are leaving a strategy which is working for you to move to a strategy which may not work for you and may in fact worsen your arthritis and leave you vulnerable to infection.
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Caitriona Buckley
Consultant Rheumatologist
Rheumatology, General Medicine Rheumatology
Bon Secours Hospital Tralee
Phone: 066 716 4533 Fax: 066 716 4534

Dr. Caitriona Buckley

Consultant Rheumatologist


Dr Caitriona Buckley is a Consultant Rheumatologist and General Physician at the Bon Secours Hospital Tralee.

Dr Buckley graduated from University College Cork in 1998. She completed basic medical training in Cork. She went on to pursue specialist training in rheumatology in the UK. During this time she gained experience in centres of excellence for systemic sclerosis in Manchester, vasculitis and lupus in Birmingham and ankylosing spondylitis in Bath. Dr Buckley returned to Ireland in 2009 and has worked at the Bon Secours Hospital Tralee since then. She runs a busy outpatient and day patient rheumatology service with a special interest in early inflammatory arthritis and spondyloarthritis. She also provides an infusion and injection service.

Specialist Interests

Dr Buckley sees the full spectrum of rheumatic disease in her out patient clinic. She has specialist interest in inflammatory arthritis, including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis and the Spondyloarthropathies. She also has particular interest in Vasculitis and the Connective Tissue Diseases.  She is a strong advocate of early diagnosis and aggressive management of inflammatory disease.


Education and Experience

MB, BCh, BAO (Hons) 1998

MRCPI 2001



Honan Scholarship, University College, Cork



Contact Details

  • Dr. Caitriona Buckley
Ahmed El Rafie
Consultant Rheumatologist
Bon Secours Hospital Tralee
Phone: 066 716 4582 Fax: 066 716 4562

Dr Ahmed El Rafie

Consultant Rheumatologist


Dr Rafie graduated from the University of Cairo in 1992.

Dr Rafie completed his training in the UK and conducted research in the Lupus Research Institute in St Thomas Hospital, London, UK.

Dr Rafie moved to Ireland in 1995 and worked as a Consultant Rheumatologist in Waterford Regional Hospital. Following this, he worked in the University Hospital Limerick where he started the Rheumatology service for the mid-western area.

Since 2003, Dr Rafie has been working as a Consultant Rheumatologist in the Bon Secours Hospital Limerick at Barringtons.

Dr Rafie practices all aspects of Rheumatology including degenerative and inflammatory arthritis.



Contact Details

  • Dr Ahmed El Rafie
  • Suite 17, The Kerry Clinic, Bon Secours Hospital Tralee, Co. Kerry

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