Health inequalities must be tackled by a National Clinical Director
30 March 2010
A National Clinical Director for musculoskeletal conditions would improve services for people with these conditions, the British Society for Rheumatology said today.
Responding to a statement by Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP that he is seeking advice from the National Quality Board about creating the national post, Samantha Peters, Chief Executive of the British Society for Rheumatology, said:
“The National Quality Board needs to recognise the benefits of this important post and make the appointment as swiftly as possible. A National Clinical Director will help deliver quality care for all musculoskeletal patients, wherever they live, by using the existing resources to best effect.
“Recent government reports and audits have shown that people with musculoskeletal conditions aren’t getting treatment quickly enough. A National Clinical Director will help tackle this inequality by finding ways to use resources more efficiently and help join up services already available.”
Ms Peters continued: “The key to successful treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is early diagnosis and early access to treatment. But this isn’t happening. It’s a major concern that increased government funding has not led to speedier diagnosis and treatment.
“At a time when cuts in public services have already begun, it’s vital the NHS is able to use existing funds to better effect. A National Clinical Director will be able to tackle this inefficient use of public money.”
There are 580,000 people in England with Rheumatoid Arthritis alone, with around 26,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It costs the NHS £560 million and the wider economy at least £1.8 billion each year. Three quarters of people with rheumatoid arthritis are diagnosed when of working age.
Department of Health figures for 2007-2008 show that NHS spending on musculoskeletal conditions increased from £3.5 billion to almost £4.1 billion - an increase of over 15% - but improvements in outcomes were not delivered by this extra spending.
More information from Alyson Rose on 0208 520 1994/0777 6171279 or Debbie Smith on 0207 842 0900.
Note to editors
- Samantha Peters is available for interview.
- The British Society of Rheumatology promotes excellence in the treatment of people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and supports those delivering it. It has more than 1,500 members including rheumatologists, scientists, trainees, allied health professionals and others from the UK and overseas.