Children and young people in South and Mid Wales living with chronic pain and arthritis will soon benefit from a new paediatric rheumatology service, thanks to the culmination of our three-year joint campaign with the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and Versus Arthritis. It will be the first dedicated, full-time specialist service for such conditions in Wales.
Until now, paediatric rheumatology provision in Wales has largely been made up of part-time and limited services. This means that many children and families are forced to travel long distances to access specialist services.
A call for a dedicated centre for paediatric and adolescent rheumatology to be established was one of the key recommendations of our 2016 report ‘The State of the Play: Rheumatology in Wales’. In the report, we asked that the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) should explore the creation of a specialist centre, designed and resourced as a tertiary centre for paediatric rheumatology.’
After the publication of that report, the society joined forces with NRAS and Versus Arthritis to challenge the current inadequate service provision in Wales and campaign for a dedicated multidisciplinary service to be set up. We’re also continuing to work towards the expansion of existing services in North Wales, where provision remains patchy.
Our joint parliamentary campaign, ‘Too Young For Arthritis’, led to a review of paediatric rheumatology services by WHSSC, which found – as we had argued – that a new service was needed.
Funding has now been allocated to support the development of a new Cardiff-based service for children and young people across the South and Mid Wales region, and we anticipate that the service should be up and running by late October.