Andrew Bridgen MP calls for national action to improve care for people with rheumatoid arthritis
Local MP, Andrew Bridgen, is today calling for better care for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the introduction of a national strategy for musculoskeletal conditions, including RA, in England.
A new report from Arthritis Care has revealed the lack of progress made in improving RA services in England. Three wasted years is based on the responses to a consultation undertaken by the charity that sought the views of patients, clinicians and commissioners on the quality of RA services in their local area, including the information and support available to people with RA and whether they are getting access to the treatment and care they need to manage their condition. It also makes 20 policy recommendations aimed at improving outcomes for people with RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 580,000 adults in England and Wales and the cost of the condition and its associated complications has been estimated to be £8 billion annually in the UK. The prevalence and costs of RA are rising and musculoskeletal conditions are now the fourth highest area of NHS spend.
The findings of the survey reveal that fewer than 10% of patients feel that the NHS is currently doing enough to ensure the early diagnosis of RA. More than half of patients needed to visit their GP on more than three occasions before being referred to a specialist for assessment and treatment.
In addition, 75% of the healthcare professionals that participated in the survey felt that RA services are not being sufficiently prioritised by the NHS and a third indicated that they face restrictions on treatment and care options when making prescribing decisions.
The responses to the survey illustrate the lack of progress made in improving services for patients with RA since the publication of Services for people with rheumatoid arthritis by the National Audit Office in 2009 which outlined a number of concerns regarding awareness of the condition amongst the public and healthcare professionals, and the commissioning and delivery of RA services.
Speaking at the parliamentary launch of Arthritis Care’s Three wasted years report, Andrew Bridgen MP said: “This report highlights the lack of progress in improving RA services during the last three years. To support patients with rheumatoid arthritis in North West Leicestershire I am supporting Arthritis Care’s call for the introduction of a national strategy for musculoskeletal conditions, including RA, to enable patients get access to the care and support they need.”
Judith Brodie, Chief Executive, Arthritis Care said: “Three wasted years underlines the need for action to address the lack of awareness of the condition, delays in diagnosis and variations in access to treatments. Despite high prevalence and the associated costs to the NHS, musculoskeletal conditions including RA remain under-prioritised. It is essential that in the new NHS, GP commissioners are supported and incentivised to deliver improvements in the quality of services available to people with RA.