Tests that assess the progression of rheumatoid arthritis are not being offered to thousands of sufferers, a survey has revealed.
Despite regular visits to hospital, one in 10 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients have never had vital tests to measure their disease activity score (DAS).
DAS, which is used by doctors to make decisions about treatments plans, determines the progression of the disease and indicates how effectively it is being controlled.
The assessment should be carried out at least twice a year, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
RA is an auto-immune disease, which attacks the joints causing long-term disability and approximately 487,000 people in the UK suffer from the condition.
A drive to raise awareness about DAS has been launched by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) after its survey revealed that 90% of RA sufferers do not know their DAS score.
It found that almost a fifth of those questioned did not even know if they had undergone the examination.
NRAS Chief Executive Alisa Bosworth said: "People know about the importance of measuring their cholesterol level, and people with diabetes know about their glucose levels. People with RA should know about their DAS."