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RA patients continue to be 'let down' by NHS

A third of healthcare workers face restrictions of on treatment and care options for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients when making prescribing decisions.

A report from Arthritis Care claims the care and services provided for RA patients are “hugely inadequate” with “poor” rates of diagnosis and a lack of GP awareness.

It is predicted such failings cost the taxpayer £8bn every year.

The Three wasted Years report shows it takes more than three visits to general practice for over 50% of patients with RA to be referred to a rheumatology specialist for assessment and treatment.

Nine in every ten patients feel the NHS is “not doing enough” to ensure the early diagnosis of RA.

Despite recommendations for reform from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) three years ago, Arthritis Care research reveals two thirds of clinicians and commissioners surveyed judged GP awareness and understanding of RA to be either 'average' or 'poor'.

In addition, 75% of healthcare professionals polled said RA services are not being “sufficiently prioritised” by the NHS.

The net result of the lack of awareness means RA patients continue to be "systematically and appallingly let down by the NHS", the report claims.

“As the state of RA services has remained unchanged for three years, it is imperative that we take action now to improve care and services for people with RA,” said Judith Brodie, Chief Executive of Arthritis Care.

“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.”

Following the results of the report, Arthritis Care has called upon the government to introduce an “action plan” for arthritis to ensure sufferers get access to best possible care.

Question: Do you come up against restrictions when caring for patients with RA?