Our campaign to establish a rheumatology service for children and young people in Wales has received a number of boosts recently.
Wales is the only home nation without a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service. Current provision is made up of part-time and limited services. This means many children and young people are travelling significant distances which often exacerbates their painful symptoms, and can be very disruptive and upsetting for them.
Arthritis Care Wales and Arthritis Research UK, together with the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR), have been jointly campaigning for a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service to be set up in South Wales, and an expansion of the current service in North Wales.
The campaign has had a very busy year. We helped organise a successful awareness raising event in Cardiff, where over a third of Assembly Members (AMs) attended, to a debate at the Welsh Assembly where a Motion was passed calling for a new paediatric rheumatology service to be established. This activity lead to the Welsh Government agreeing that the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) should undertake a review of current services. We have kept this issue on the radar of AMs, and in March a number of them tabled questions at the National Assembly for Wales, further supporting calls for paediatric rheumatology services in Wales to be expanded.
The campaign received a further boost in April, with WHSSC including paediatric rheumatology in both their commissioning and work plans for the coming year. This is a significant positive step and means this issue will progress from the initial review stage, to future service options being investigated. This takes us one step closer to the possibility of the current partial service being enhanced.
We will continue to campaign on this issue in the hope that children and young people across Wales have the services they need closer to home.
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