15 January 2022

Results of a survey of over 1500 rheumatology patients and clinicians have been published in Rheumatology, identifying multiple ongoing barriers to care related to the pandemic.

The research, by BSR member Melanie Sloan and colleagues at the University of Cambridge, is part of the wider LISTEN study. Surveys were completed between April-August 2021, with a cohort of patients followed from March 2020-April 2021.

The percentage of patients that felt medically supported reduced from 74.4% pre-pandemic to 39.7% during. Many clinicians also reported feeling unsupported.

Overall, the authors conclude that concerted action is required to rebuild trust and ensure safe and effective patient care.

BSR President Dr Sanjeev Patel noted: "During the COVID-19 pandemic, rheumatology patients across the UK have struggled to access routine and emergency care. Investment in the NHS workforce and its systems is desperately needed so we can provide patients with timely access to high quality care."

"Our report Workforce: a crisis in numbers calls for the expansion of the rheumatology workforce to give all patients equitable access to their rheumatology multidisciplinary team, ensuring better health outcomes and reduced risk of disability caused by unacceptable waiting times."

Read the full survey