Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Open Letter to the UK Government - World Arthritis Day 2010

There has been excellent cross party support for our work as demonstrated by John Baron MP (Conservative), Adrian Sanders MP (Lib Dem) and Valerie Vaz MP (Labour) signing an open letter to the UK Government sent to a national newspaper. 

The letter is below;

Open Letter to the UK Government


Dear Sir,

Today is World Arthritis Day and we the undersigned are using this day of global action to call on the UK Government to improve services for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, (RA) affects 690,000 people in the United Kingdomi. Despite the numbers affected, awareness of the condition remains low and a post-code lottery of care exists across the country.

Unless rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed and treated early, the effects on a patient’s quality of life and long-term health can be significant, forcing people to leave work in the prime of their lives and placing families under significant financial strainii. It has been estimated that such productivity losses cost the UK £8 billion a yeariii.

The Public Accounts Committee, when they held their enquiry into RA services endorsed a nationwide awareness campaign on the signs and symptoms of RA and this alongside improved GP training could both improve patient care and deliver real cost savings to the NHS.

With the new Government’s comprehensive programme to change an NHS needing to save £15-20 billion by 2014iv underway, there is a great opportunity to act now and improve services for rheumatoid arthritis patients. We urge them not to miss it.

Yours sincerely,

John Baron MP, Adrian Sanders MP, Valerie Vaz MP

i 580,000 people in England living with RA and calculated for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Audit Office, Services for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, July 2009

ii 28.4% of patients diagnosed with RA give up work within a year. NRAS, Economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis, April 2010

iii NRAS, Economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis, April 2010

iv Department of Health, Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS, July 2010

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