December 2012

 Director's Update

Dear ARMA members,

Welcome to our Christmas edition. As always, it’s been a busy month for ARMA, and there is much to update you on as you prepare for the holiday period (if, like me, you’re working until the weekend).

Before I do, though, I’m delighted to inform you that the NHS Commissioning Board is advertising for National Clinical Directors (NCDs) – including one for Musculoskeletal Disorders under Domain Two (as well as one for Spinal Disorders, and Major Trauma under Domain 3). This is a major development and a great achievement for all of us. As you know, a Musculoskeletal NCD has been a key objective for ARMA for the past few years, and the fact that we have now achieved this is a testament to our continued influencing and sustained efforts to secure greater strategic direction and prioritisation for MSDs. This is great news to end the year on, and reaffirms how effective we can be when working together as an Alliance.

Now, back to the update…

The main highlight of the past four weeks or so has without doubt been our 4th annual lecture, which saw our largest-ever number of people turn out at the RCOG to hear Dr. Martin McShane deliver a very stimulating presentation on improving the quality of life for people with long-term conditions, and engage in a lively discussion afterwards. No doubt next year’s will be even better, though we have certainly raised the bar for ourselves. I’m also very pleased to say that you are all able to listen to Dr. McShane’s presentation, with slides, on our website. Thank you to Dr. Chris Deighton, Jo Cumming and Prof. Andy Carr in particular for being on our discussion panel.

Shortly after the Lecture I was off to Vietnam for the international Bone and Joint Decade conference, where I met and compared notes with other Action Networks from around the world. I’ll be sharing key points with our policy group in January.

The BJD has also had a big hand in the latest Global Burden of Disease report, which highlights the sheer impact of disability for Western countries in particular, and clearly shows how MSDs are a major part of that, especially lower back pain and osteoarthritis. There are a number of key messages for UK health policy-makers arising from this latest data, which is the result of a very impressive and genuinely global effort, and we will be discussing how we can best use these findings to support our key priorities in early 2013. In the meantime, I have been busy raising awareness of this report with key contacts from an MSD perspective; thank you to all those who have also done so.

I held a meeting with ARMA networks recently, where I discussed with network convenors the general direction and requirements of the networks going forward. The meeting was well-attended and very productive. ARMA networks have an important role to play in helping us to influence and strengthen the MSK community locally (and in the case of Scotland and Wales, nationally), and will be an important asset in an increasingly devolved NHS in England in particular, but the key, as always, rests on how well we are able to work in a joined-up manner. This will be another issue for ARMA policy leads to consider in January.

As I write, we are about to advertise for the post of Project Manager for our MSK clinical networks project, which is a 12-month fixed-term contract with DH funding. The post will be managed by myself but will also work closely with ARMA members in the area of MSK commissioning.

Also about to hit ARMA members’ inboxes (on Friday) is our new, yearly survey: please keep an eye out for this and take some time between now and 25 January to fill it in, as your views are invaluable to us.

Sadly, Siobhan Lanigan is leaving ARMA this month to take up the post of CEO at The Food Chain. Those of you who have met and interacted with Siobhan will agree that she has been of great help to the ARMA office throughout her short time with us, and will be missed. We are hoping in any event to re-recruit to this role very shortly.

Finally, 2013 is just around the corner now, and January will mark the beginning of ARMA’s new 3-year strategic plan, which will be made available on our website. It is also the official start of ARMA’s corporate membership, and we will be in touch with our new corporate members as well as full ARMA members with more information about this in early January.

May you all have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Members' News and

Work Foundation MSD Warning

A new report (published 10 December 2012) by The Work Foundation warns of the disadvantages and loss of earnings caused by a lack of positive practice to support people with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in work.

Read online.

Back pain Seminar for GP awareness

GP awareness campaign NASS was delighted with the first Back Pain seminar for GP deaneries which was held in Norwich on Wednesday 28 November 2012. Part of a broader GP awareness project funded by Abbott Laboratories, this event saw around 100 GP trainees ...

Read online.

Educational Research Fellowships

Arthritis Research UK is pleased to announce a new call for Educational Research Fellowships.  These fellowships are open to doctors (usually at specialty training level in rheumatology, orthopaedics or general practice), nurses, allied health professionals and educationalists. They provide an opportunity for training and research in an educational project ...

Read online.

Scottish MSK programme

The next meeting of ARMA Scotland will be Wednesday February 13, in Edinburgh, when Phil Mackie will be speaking on the recent Scottish Public Health Network needs assessment report on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sarah Mitchell will be giving an update...


Read online.

Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning

On Wednesday 14th November Jean Miller, founder, patron, trustee and former Chair of Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis Scotland received the “Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning” from Age Scotland at their AGM in the Edinburgh City Chambers.  ...

Read online.

International Symposium brings spotlight for GCA

PMR-GCA-UK reports that after years in the shadows, PMR (Polymyalgia Rheumatica) and GCA (Giant Cell Arteritis) are coming into the rheumatological spotlight. At the end of October, the national working group on sight loss caused by undiagnosed GCA met for the first time...

Read online.

Learning From Clinical Networks

Arthritis Research UK, along with BSR, recently met with Kevin Holton, lead for respiratory networks at DH, to discuss how the musculoskeletal community could learn from existing clinical network models in other health areas.

Read online.

BJD National Action Network

At this year's ARMA AGM, Professor Anthony Woolf gave a presentation on the Bone and Joint Decade. You can access the slides as a powerpoint file here.

Read online.

December news from Fibromyalgia in Tonbridge

Fibromyalgia in Tonbridge has put together their own December Newsletter for all those hailing from West Kent.

You will find within the meeting dates for the coming year, a report on their partnership with PIP Health, comprehensive update on recent events, and pages more ...

Read online.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Co-morbidities Report

NRAS has published a new report that highlights the extent of the co-morbidities associated with RA and what can be done to promote better outcomes for people with the disease.


Read online.

Joint Working & Joint Activity in Scotland

Arthritis Care Scotland

Two new projects, funded by Glasgow North Branch, were given the green light to go ahead this week.

Joint Working will be delivered in partnership with the occupational therapists in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and provide support to people diagnosed with RA ...

Read online.

ARMA Birmingham Update

Following the very successful area group co-ordinators meeting at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here in Birmingham we look forward to 2013 with renewed hope to improve on what we have achieved in past years: to increase our membership through communication with other groups ...

Read online.

PSALV, Parliament & WPD

PSALV has had a busy and successful autumn. September saw us in Aberdeen, holding the second of our Public Information Meetings of 2012, with presentations by Dr Tony Ormerod, Consultant Dermatologist, ...

Read online.

Bone and Joint Decade

Global Burden of Disease Study

The Bone and Joint Decade (BJD) calls for urgent action to “keep people moving” and reduce the burden of disability.

This landmark study of the global burden of all diseases provides indisputable evidence that musculoskeletal disorders are an enormous and emerging problem in all parts of the world and need to be given the same priority for policy and resources as other major conditions like cancer, mental health and cardiovascular disease.

Read more online.

Click here to visit the Lancet for more details and to see the full data when it is published.

Click here to visit the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the organisation responsible for the study.


Final Reminder:

For those who wish to enter an essay in to the Edgar Stene Prize competition 2013 the title is: “Growing up or growing older – my secret for healthy ageing with a rheumatic or musculoskeletal disease”. Essayists should tell the reader what they do in their daily lives to age healthily with an MSD – be it a diet, exercise, relaxation programme, meditation, fun, the family or any other secret!

Please send your essay to by 10th January 2013.

Policy Items

There have been a number of PQs on MSDs lately and here’s the latest one:

Health ministers have responded to written questions tabled by Linda Riordan MP (Lab, Halifax) on rheumatoid arthritis.

Asked what consideration the Government has given to the implementation of a best practice tariff to support the care of people with early inflammatory arthritis, the Dr Dan Poulter stated that the new tariff will be introduced in 2013-14 for patients referred to an out-patient clinic with suspected early inflammatory arthritis.

In addition, Ms Riordan asked what steps the Government is taking to improve the care of people with rheumatoid arthritis in primary care.  In his response Norman Lamb said that this was covered in existing NICE clinical guidance and the forthcoming NICE quality standard.  He added that the Government proposes to implement the four new indicators relating to RA recommended by NICE for the Quality and Outcomes Framework.

He also added that primary care clinicians may wish to take account of the "10 standards of care" published by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, in particular standard 2, which refers to the "red flags" which may aid early diagnosis.

Spotlight on...

Invest in Engagement

The Invest in Engagement website is a one stop research review for commissioners of the evidence for the effectiveness of patient involvement approaches, managed by National Voices. It covers shared treatment decisions, support for self-management, health literacy and health promotion.

ARMA Calendar

RCN Rheumatology Forum – ‘Rheumatology Nursing – leading the way’ – Edinburgh 21st – 22nd February 2013

Rheumatology 2013 – Birmingham – 23-25th April 2013

EULAR Congress 2013 – Madrid - 12-15 June 2013

PARE Conference – Iceland - 15-17th November 2013

Please starting thinking about sending your items for inclusion in our ARMA          newsletter next year.