Back in January I described 2013 as being a potentially pivotal year for ARMA and MSK, and April has certainly been a very significant month for us.
Our Project Manager for the MSK clinical networks project, Ann Clare, is now in post, and has already met many of our members. She will be working with us P/T until the end of May 2014 on what is very much our flagship project for this year, and probably the next. During May and June, Anne will be collating evidence of good practice in MSK and building a database of MSK clinical leaders in England who could become “ambassadors” for MSK clinical networks in their locality (and beyond). If that could be you, please email Ann. More information about the project will be available on our website soon.
The BSR Conference is always a highlight of the year for ARMA and for most of our members, and this year ARMA hosted a session on MSK clinical networks, featuring presentations by Dr. Chris Deighton (BSR President), Dr. Alan Nye (PCRS President and Director of the Pennine MSK Partnership) and Colin Beevor (Matron and Clinical Nurse Specialist for Rheumatology; speaking as a medical advisor to NASS). The session was very well-attended and generated a very stimulating discussion. I also had the privilege of co-chairing, alongside Vicky Chamberlain from the RCN Rheumatology Forum, a session on optimising work participation for people with MSK disorders, which remains a very important issue for the entire MSK community, particularly against the backdrop of welfare reform.
Perhaps most significantly, however, on 30th April ARMA members had a very positive first meeting with Prof. Peter Kay, the recently-appointed National Clinical Director for MSK in England, aimed at finding out more about his role and discussing how we as a community can best support him, in pursuit of our shared aim of improving care for all people with MSK disorders. In a room filled to capacity, Prof Kay outlined some of his key priorities, including information, patient-centred outcome measures and a multi-skilled MSK workforce, and emphasised the need for our community to work collectively in an integrated way across the whole of MSK - which is of course ARMA’s raison d’etre. The key, he said, is to take the perspective of the patient. We very much view this as the beginning of a relationship, which we will take forward mainly through the MSK clinical networks project – where Prof. Kay will have an active input – and through regular meetings between himself and the ARMA community, which we will arrange in due course.
This week I am meeting the convenors of our ARMA networks to discuss how we can continue to build on the good work that they have done locally and nationally in a strategic way (note: these networks are distinct from the clinical networks project mentioned above). If you are an ARMA member organisation with a local network of supporters, please do get in touch with our existing ARMA networks if you are not already represented.
The programme for the NHS Alliance Specialist Network Conference on 18 June, which ARMA had a key role in pulling together, is also now available online.
Finally, ARMA has expressed its support for transparency in clinical trials by signing up to the alltrials.net petition.