We’re campaigning to grow the rheumatology workforce, remove barriers to developing extended scope roles, and secure the future supply of specialists.

Why are we campaigning?
Rheumatic conditions are complex, requiring multidisciplinary care from highly skilled professionals and some of the most advanced and expensive drugs available on the NHS. Our research over a number of years has revealed considerable variation in the rheumatology MDT workforce numbers across the UK, leading to inequalities in provision of adult rheumatology services.

The appetite for healthcare professionals to work in rheumatology is high. Rheumatology is an oversubscribed specialty, with approximately 66% of consultant rheumatology applicants unable to secure a post. Vacancies and shortages are due to a lack of appropriate workforce planning, which must be matched to the needs of the rheumatology population and provide access to the right specialist training and education opportunities for nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and allied health professionals.

How can you support this campaign?

We are writing to the main UK political parties and all MPs to ask them to adopt our recommendations as a manifesto commitment for the next general election therefore making rheumatology a priority for whomever forms the next government.

Help us make this campaign a success by:

Are you a politician and want to sign the pledge? Find more information about how you can support our campaign here.


The rheumatology community led by BSR, is asking politicians to sign up to the pledge below to grow the rheumatology workforce.

I pledge to support the growth of the rheumatology workforce by: 

Advocating, at both local and national level, to grow the number of rheumatology consultants, specialist nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and allied health professionals in line with BSR’s People We Need campaign. 

Working with patients, healthcare professionals, speciality medical societies and patient organisations to promote the value of excellent rheumatology care and fully staffed MDT rheumatology services in parliament.  

Learning about the positive impact that fully staffed MDT rheumatology teams have on the timely diagnosis and treatment of people with rheumatic conditions. 

Our pledge is informed by the experiences of healthcare professionals and patients, and endorsed by the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS), the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), and the Primary Care Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine Society (PCRMMS).

Are you a politician and want to sign the pledge? Find out how you can support our campaign.

Are you a politician and want to sign the pledge? Find out how you can support our campaign.


We have published our first manifesto for change, the People We Need: our plan to grow the rheumatology workforce to enable excellent rheumatology care. Our manifesto sets out what steps our members expect the next UK Government to take to enable excellent care for the 17 million people living with these chronic, painful and often debilitating conditions. We urge all political parties to prioritise growing the rheumatology workforce by: 

  • 159 additional adult rheumatology consultant posts; 
  • 264 additional specialist nurse posts in adult rheumatology services; 
  • 2 additional paediatric rheumatology consultant posts; and to 
  • Removing barriers to the development of extended  roles for allied health professionals, pharmacists and specialist nurses to address capacity issues across specialist services. 
  • The NHS may have more doctors and nurses than ever before, but there are far more people in need of complex care today due to our ageing population and the wider range of healthcare services being provided. We know ‘The People We Need’ to enable excellent rheumatology care, but we need political will to make it happen. 
Read our manifesto 

Cost-effectiveness modelling

Our research shows that growing the rheumatology workforce reduces the health and societal costs of rheumatoid arthritis by £50 million and improves patients' outcomes in 5 years alone.

The research, carried out by Costello Medical, looks at the cost-effectiveness of growing the rheumatology workforce on the treatment of adults with incident RA over 5 years. Our modelling shows that investing in the rheumatology workforce is cost-effective, meaning it reduces the overall health and societal costs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and enables patients to live freer healthier lives. You can read the full technical report detailing the model design and inputs here.

Read our research briefing

Workforce report

In 2021, we launched our report Rheumatology workforce: a crisis in numbers to bring attention to the workforce crisis in NHS rheumatology services. We brought together workforce data for all members of the MDT working in adult, adolescent and paediatric rheumatology for the first time. 

We found that insufficient numbers of consultants and specialist nurses in rheumatology departments meant that care was falling short of the NICE quality standards. In fact, these workforce shortages were an issue for all members of the MDT, and there was significant variability in provision across the nations and regions. 

We made eight recommendations to turn the tide on the workforce crisis in rheumatology, including recommendations on the per population provision of adult rheumatology consultants and specialist nurses and the development of enhanced roles for AHPs, pharmacists and nurses. We also made recommendations to improve awareness of rheumatology in education and training to attract more health professionals to the specialty. 

Read the full report below to see breakdowns of regional workforce data and our eight key recommendations. 

Read the report
Find out more about the rheumatology workforce and how to support it
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