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Access to NHS specialist services for rheumatoid arthritis are 'patchy'

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Specialist nurse advice given over the phone is virtually the only support for many rheumatoid arthritis patients, according to a King’s Fund report published yesterday.

Commissioned by the Rheumatology Futures Project Group, the report said there was an ‘unacceptably wide variation’ in the level and quality of access to specialist care for people with rheumatoid arthritis,

It said some patients received no support from the NHS multi-disciplinary teams that were supposed to provide specialist services to help them manage their condition.

Susan Oliver, nurse consultant in rheumatology and joint chair of the Rheumatology Futures Group, said: ‘Many patients who experience a flare of their disease and need health care advice use the nurse specialist telephone advice line service to seek help and access to prompt management.

‘Yet access to a prompt appointment with specialist rheumatology practitioners is variable,’ she said. ‘A proactive and strategic approach to commissioning should be undertaken if patients are to receive a fair deal.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am a rheumatology patient and I do not have access to a specialist nurse and also have had my follow-up appt postponed for a further 6 months, apparently due to "the health care professional I was due to see" being on annual leave. Rheumatology care is patchy over the country, I live in Norwich.

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