Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance
This is a category taken from the full feed of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis news provided by ARMA's members.
  • The Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) is the umbrella body for the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK, and our mission is to transform the quality of life of people with musculoskeletal conditions. We have 33 member organisations ranging from specialised support groups for rare diseases to major research charities and national professional bodies.

Arthritis News

NASS was delighted to welcome 200 guests, including 30 MPs, to a reception at the Houses of Parliament on Monday 3 December to launch their Every Patient Every Time campaign and hold their Patients’ Choice Awards.

Announcements included the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis, which will oversee the implementation of the NICE Guideline and Quality Standard for Spondyloarthritis, and the Aspiring to Excellence programme which will encourage rheumatology departments around the country to share best practice and improve services in a collaborative manner.

The event culminated in honouring recipients of the 2018 Patients’ Choice Awards – given to health care professionals who had been nominated by their patients for their outstanding care during the year. Click here to learn more about Every Patient, Every Time and here to see who’s been honoured in the awards.

November has been a very active month for ARMA. Not just in the sense that we are doing a lot but also that a lot of it has been about physical activity, which seems to be exciting and uniting the MSK community.

The ARMA lecture featured three speakers with different perspectives on the subject. A wide range of people attended, bringing GPs into conversations with public health professionals, parkrun with sport therapists, pain specialists with the DWP, Sport England with Healthwatch. These are the sort of connections that happen at an ARMA event and the discussions continued long after the lecture was over. The following week we had a webinar on physical activity, with practical tools to help people with MSK conditions be more active. It proved the most popular webinar we have ever delivered.

There’s a lot of excitement around ARMA at the moment, not just about physical activity. We have a new strategy developed by the membership. It is clearer and more focused which should mean it delivers more impact. There’s a desire to focus on issues where we can be more effective working together than alone. We’ve had interest from potential new members, funders and people who want to work in partnership with us, so there will be no end of opportunities for us to collaborate in 2019.

We’re developing our workplan for next year, putting the strategy into action. It will be a balance between capitalising on opportunities and setting our own agenda. We will be working with NHS England and Public Health England, where MSK is now higher up the agenda, making sure the voice and expertise of all our members is heard. We will also be pursuing our own issues, one of which will be physical activity.

In my almost two years at ARMA I don’t think I have felt so much positivity. Policy change is slow, difficult and often frustrating. Collaboration can be the same. We often feel that things aren’t moving as fast as we’d like, that MSK doesn’t get the priority we know it deserves. Please do watch the lecture and the webinar. They express precisely how ARMA members’ activity, combined with that of external stakeholders, can make their different contributions, and work together to deliver something special.

I’m looking forward to working with you all in 2019. I hope to return after the Christmas break feeling as positive as I do now. There will be some exciting collaborations ahead and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve.

Get involved and help us find out.

Despite improvements in life expectancy, England lags behind other countries on many key health outcomes. A new report from the Kings Fund argues that to address this, we need to move away from a system just focused on diagnosing and treating illness towards one that is based on promoting wellbeing and preventing ill health.

Population health is an approach that aims to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing and reduce health inequalities across an entire population. The King’s Fund’s vision is to reduce inequalities and achieve health outcomes on a par with the best in the world by focusing on population health locally, regionally and nationally. Whilst the report does not focus upon it directly, we know MSK health underpins all other aspects of health, as ARMA has always argued. The vision cannot be successful unless MSK health is part of it.

The report outlines a framework for population health and calls for action at national, regional and local levels. This should include: ambitious and binding national goals to drive progress; a cross-government strategy for reducing health inequalities; stronger political and system leadership; greater clarity on the roles and accountability of national bodies and local organisations; and increased investment in prevention, public health and spending that supports population health.

The British Orthopaedic Association is aware of concerns being raised by patients following recent media coverage regarding implants.

To communicate reassurance and the relevant facts, the BOA has prepared a statement for patients which you can open here.

Guest blog by Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, NHS England

As I look back on 2018 it has been a great year for AHPs and for the NHS. 2018 has seen acknowledgement of ‘the Brilliance of AHPs’ by Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England and development of a number of work areas which have highlighted how AHPs can support the challenges faced by the Health and Social care system in England. AHPs are a diverse group of practitioners recognised for their autonomy with proven ability to apply innovative solutions to the challenges facing communities across health and social care, but also in wider settings such as education, the military, justice, independent and voluntary sectors. AHPs have repeatedly evidenced their ability to take on new roles and step outside traditional boundaries; I view them as 14 jewels each with a unique skill set that can be applied to address the challenges facing communities today.

An excellent example of how AHPs can support current system challenges has been the development of the First Contact Practitioner (FCP) model for people with musculoskeletal conditions. The FCP model has been developed to enable people to access prompt, timely, specific advice and management for their musculoskeletal condition, be that through seeing an Osteopath, Physiotherapist or Podiatrist. Without FCP, people are required to see a GP first to access appropriate management. Access to the right care will support individuals to manage their condition and continue with activities important to them, be that work or leisure.

My first priority for any service development that includes AHPs, is the provision of safe and effective care for citizens, the publication of The Musculoskeletal Core Capabilities Framework for first contact practitioners’ has supported this aim. ARMA delivered this work programme in partnership with NHS England, the National Clinical Director for MSK services and the Elective Care Transformation Programme. The outcome is a document detailing the knowledge, skills and behaviours deemed essential for First Contact Practice. The provision of guidance in this area will ensure consistency and effectiveness of first contact services. The implementation of first contact services for people with MSK conditions, where AHPs with expertise in MSK are very much part of the general practice and primary care team, will improve access to person-centred musculoskeletal care and support.

It was a pleasure to be involved with the development of this framework. Delivery of this model is being rolled out nationally, as a person-centred approach, enabling shared decision making and acknowledging that appropriate management can be achieved for people with MSK conditions without the need for involvement of the GP or a practice nurse, freeing their clinical time to manage people who require their specific skills and expertise.

The Work Foundation’s Health at Work Policy Unit  has published its latest report: Who cares? The implications of informal care and work for policymakers and employers.

The number of informal carers in the UK is substantial and growing. Between 2001 and 2011, their number rose significantly (outstripping population growth) from 5.8 million to 6.5 million. Most carers are women (around 60%) and the vast majority (around 4.1 million) are of working age. Furthermore, the majority of working age carers (2.6 million) combine work with their caring responsibilities.

Read the full report or executive summary.

Due to several factors, in particular the ageing population and declining investment in social care services, the number of informal carers is expected to rise. Estimates suggest they will number 9 million by 2037. The economic value of their contribution is huge – and the UK’s health and social care system is heavily and increasingly reliant on it.

This paper outlines some of the implications associated with the growing number of informal carers in the UK, the health and social care system’s increasingly unsustainable reliance on them, and what Government and employers can do about it. This is informed by the academic and grey literature, as well as a workshop we hosted in 2017 (in partnership with Simplyhealth) , which was attended by over 30 expert stakeholders from government and non-government bodies, individual carers, carers charities, think tanks, and businesses.

The Who Cares? paper is the third in the Health at Work Policy Unit series, Gender, sex, health and work, which explores the issue of health and work through a ‘gendered’ lens. This series focuses on areas where gender and sex have a significant impact on work and/or health outcomes. Other papers in the series include:

For more information, see the Work Foundation’s background paper and accompanying infographics.

Please feel free to contact the report’s author, Dr James Chandler, for more information.


With a new strategy, “Driving progress: genetic, rare and undiagnosed”, the HMSA is committed to examining their impact within the four nations of the UK in order to build a plan that ensures they are truly a UK-wide organisation. The first step is to build a picture of how HMSA members currently operate across the UK. There has been a good response the survey; next the aim is to provide more engagement and opportunities for staff and volunteers.

Giving GPs the Tools

The HMSA’s current GP campaign is part of their work to improve professionals’ awareness and education so they’re able to more quickly identify those people presenting with hypermobility related disorders.

A pack of materials is being put together at the moment. A quicker diagnosis leads to reduced disability and impact on a person’s ability to work, go to school and on their quality of life. Much more is being done at local, national and international levels and the HMSA needs your donations to help with all of it. Please consider a donation via their Fundraising page.

ARMA wants to find out what is happening across England’s MSK services so we can learn how best target to our support for improvements.

This MSK Services survey gathers information on the quality of local services, programmes and improvements related to primary care, orthopaedics, rheumatology, pain management, community MSK, and public health. This is part of our Clinical Networks Project, a partnership between ARMA and NHS England.

Our report will be anonymised; no names of individuals, CCGs or STPs will be released.

Please find the survey here. It only takes a short time to complete.