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Arthritis News

ARMA has welcomed the inclusion of references to MSK in the NHS Long Term Plan. The real challenge is how to implement this in the local NHS plans. ARMA has set out the “core offer” of MSK services and support which need to be implemented locally if the ambition of the long term plan is to be realised.

The NHS plan states: “Longer-term health conditions also make an increasing contribution to the overall burden of disease. Mental health, respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions are responsible for a substantial amount of poor health and place a substantial burden on the NHS and other care services.” Our core offer identifies what is needed in five areas: underpinning framework; services; prevention; mental health; personalisation. It identifies how our recommendation would deliver on the NHS Plan and provides links to toolkits and guidance of how to implement each suggestion.

Please download the document and use it if you are involved in planning local services.

FOREUM – Foundation for Research in Rheumatology – announces a programme to support innovative concepts to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Rheumatic Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs). This programme is designed as an open research call seeking for the best and most visionary approaches to better understand RMDs and to improve the life of patients with RMDs.

As such, the call is not limited to a specific disease within the RMD spectrum but rather intends to target fundamentally new concepts that have potential to gain concept-changing insights into RMDs.

Letters of intent can be submitted until 5 March 2019. If you are interested to apply for a grant, please find all information on the open call page on the FOREUM website.

Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) national report calls for short-term pain relief to be replaced with rehabilitation.

GIRFT say that replacing short-term pain relief injections with long-term physical and psychological rehabilitation programmes could help tens of thousands more patients cope with debilitating back pain, in their new report on spinal surgery.

See the spinal surgery report page for more details.

Good design touches our lives every day. From the cars we drive to the beds we sleep in, the equipment and products that we use have been constructed to make our lives easier. But often the design decisions fail to take into account those with physical limitations.

Versus Arthritis is concerned that people with arthritis are missing out because designers have not thought about the challenges they face.

As part of the Room to Manoeuvre campaign, VA want more people to understand the impact of arthritis, and to work together to create solutions so that the equipment and spaces people with arthritis use are more effective.

To support this ambition, on the 23 and 24 January the Versus Arthritis Policy team helped organise a design workshop with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Department for Health and Social Care, Design Council, the IET, and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. The workshop explored opportunities to design better solutions for people who can find everyday tasks a challenge.

The event was part of the Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge – a mission to ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra, healthy, independent years of life by 2035.

Versus Arthritis knows that arthritis steals quality of life from millions of people and believe that it must be a central consideration of the Ageing Grand Challenge.

Caroline Dinenage MP, the Minister of State for Social Care attended part of the workshop. She viewed some of the products that emerged from the Spark product innovation programme (a project we have previously co-sponsored with the Design Council) and met some of the campaigners, who talked to her about their experiences using aids and adaptations.

Versus Arthritis policy specialist, Ollie Phelan, presented research on the impact products and home adaptations can have for people with arthritis. He shared that “97% of people with arthritis we surveyed told us that home aids and adaptations had a positive impact on their lives. For nearly 80% these products helped them to maintain independence, and for 13% they were the difference between independence and dependence. It’s clear the impact is huge and we must ensure that people with arthritis have good access to the products that could help them live better. But we must also ensure that there is focus on good design. People with arthritis have told us that medicalised products can reinforce feelings of vulnerability and embarrassment. This event is a welcome step in designing life-changing products that anyone would want to use.”

At the event attendees were split into teams, each made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, including designers, people with arthritis, clinicians, occupational therapists, and engineers. They interrogated the challenge areas they were presented with, identifying particular opportunities for new designs and new products.

Cherine Maskill is one of the campaigners who took part in the workshop. She said:

“I wouldn’t consider myself physically disabled, but arthritis impacts on almost everything I do. I haven’t had a bath in two years as I can’t get in and out of the tub. I struggle with anything where you have to apply pressure through the thumbs or wrists.

“Inclusive design is crucial. You have to step away from the idea that it’s ‘older people’ having a problem and start looking at a universal problem and therefore a universal solution.

“A lightbulb moment for me was where we were breaking down the sequence of actions that take place to actually get in and out of the car. I shared my own experience of this. It really made me realise that it’s the people on the ground with practical experience or professional expertise, who should be involved in the design of new products.”

At the end of the two days, each team presented their ideas. One team envisaged a ‘plug-and-play’ bathroom where components could be switched in and out to adapt to the needs of the inhabitant. One designed a flatpack accessible bed. Another had the idea of self-driving cars that also helped people into the car itself.

These ideas provide serious insight into the challenge areas that designers should focus on when designing equipment that could make a difference to people with arthritis. This information will feed into the ongoing Ageing Grand Challenge work.

Versus Arthritis continues to work closely with the Design Council and the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure people with arthritis remain a central part of the Government’s industrial strategy.

You can find out more on the Versus Arthritis website about the Room to Manoeuvre campaign which aims to ensure that everyone with arthritis has access to the aids and adaptations they need.

The first ever annual WORD Day, “WOrld Young Rheumatic Disease Day” takes place on the 18 March in 2019.

Jointly inaugurated by PReS (www.PRES.EU) and the parent/patient association ENCA (, the objectives of this day are to raise parental and professional awareness of these illnesses. Raising awareness of paediatric rheumatic diseases among health care providers will help speed up diagnosis, especially of rarer diseases.

WORD pediatric day is also directed at the wider public, since it is important to raise social awareness to the needs of children with rheumatic illnesses.

Local face-to-face awareness events, hospital websites and educational programs will be aired on both the local and international stage in a range of different countries. Diverse local events will be designed and implemented by local organizing committees in each country, to be run in hospital, universities and public areas (e.g. schools, museums, town centres). These are anticipated to include information stalls, talks and performances given by patients, information and training events for healthcare professionals, ‘peer education’ workshops involving medical student organisations. In particular, WORD day will target doctors who are the first clinicians to come into contact with these patients (e.g. general paediatricians), parents, other health practitioners, educators.

A number of assertive social media campaigns including the patient voice, patient organisations and charities, promotional educational videos, radio and TV interviews with patients and doctors will accompany these events, each directed at a specific audience.

Social media accounts were launched in December 2018 and so far have reached 16,800 Facebook users, and made 15,700 Twitter impressions.

See: Facebook
See: Twitter

Leaflets and booklets on WORD Day will soon be available through the PRES website.

For more information and to share your ideas please get in touch through the WORD Day email account –

phe logoPublic Health England added a musculoskeletal chapter to its All Our Health guidance to help health professionals prevent ill health and promote wellbeing in their everyday practice.

This guidance helps front-line health and care staff promote the benefits of maintaining good musculoskeletal health with a focus on prevention, early detection and treatment.

PHE also recommend important actions that managers and staff holding strategic roles can take.

All our Health is a PHE led ‘Call to Action’ for all health and care professionals to embed and extend prevention, health protection and promotion of wellbeing and resilience into practice. All Our Health provides a framework, tools and resources to support this ‘health promoting practice’ with quick links to evidence and impact measures and top tips on what works.

Available on the PHE’s musculoskeletal health applying all our health page.


By Steve Boorman, Chair, Council for Work and Health

Work and Health Unit commissioned resource to support GPs in identifying work modifications.

You may be aware from previous contacts and, or consultations, that the Work and Health Unit (WHU), as part of its “Improving Lives” strategic programme, has identified a need to provide additional support resources to Doctors, to help them in supporting patients to identify work adjustments to improve workability and improve recovery.

The Council for Work and Health was commissioned to research and develop this work and a dedicated researcher was used to review published literature, collate existing available resources and to develop content. Council members and other contacts have been actively consulted during this development process and much work has been done to date.

You will also be aware from recent consultation that work has been underway to revisit the “Work as a Clinical Outcome” consensus statement due for relaunch shortly. The “Work as a Clinical Outcome” consensus statement reminds all healthcare workers that such conversations are an important part of clinical practice.  This resource is primarily aimed at GPs to help support their medical consultations and consideration of “Fit note” options, and whilst this resource seeks to be used in a medical context we have tried to balance some clear advice that most work adjustments are simple and practical arrangements.

I would be grateful if you would share the link with your colleagues and invite them to contribute to user testing this resource as part of its continued development – we are keen to understand views regarding its content, accessibility and usefulness. Accessing the link will trigger a short feedback survey which will be in place over the next month’s testing period. We will then take stock and evaluate the feedback in consultation with the Work and Health Unit in order to finalise a resource, which is planned to be freely accessible via the Council for Work and Health website from April 2019.

The resource is deliberately written in a style and manner aimed at doctors – we absolutely recognise that the key in all this is people having good conversations with employers and this is being looked at elsewhere in the WHU programme – this piece of work is to encourage GPs to consider work adjustments in their consultations with patients.

This resource will not sit in isolation and many other converging programmes are also in development to support other health care practitioners, employees and employers to enable positive conversations on work options. We also recognise that different GPs will use resources in different ways, and that levels of knowledge and capability may be variable.

It is also recognised that good quality occupational health advice may help support and work is being undertaken on how best to provide such.
This resource has been developed for use by doctors during their clinical consultations with patients, it is illustrated with some simple case studies and there may be opportunity to add to these later.
This is still work in progress, and the following link will give free access to the current version, which we are keen to now seek further feedback and evaluation upon.

If you follow the link it will take you to the Council for Work and Health’s website and the relevant resource page. The resource can be read from start to finish if preferred, but we anticipate users will jump to relevant sections, links or case studies and that in time we can provide more relevant linked content applicable to wider stakeholders. The evaluation resource will generate a simple survey on closing and we hope that you will feel able to share the link as widely as possible and encourage stakeholders to give feedback during the next month. After this period we will consider any necessary revisions and more formally plan to launch the web resource in March 19.

I know some stakeholders will feel that this resource risks medicalising the work and health conversation, once again the context, we are testing here, is for use in General Practice and to support patients in starting conversations where appropriate.


The Royal College of Chiropractors has opened a consultation on a draft Osteoporosis Quality Standard and is seeking the views of all stakeholders including interested organisations, chiropractors, other healthcare professionals, patients and the public.

rcc logo Comments are invited on any aspect of the document including its relevance and applicability to the chiropractic profession, the achievability of the standards described in the quality statements, the utility of the quality statements in terms of promoting best care, the document’s accuracy and validity in terms of the evidence base and the clarity of the content to practitioners, patients and other stakeholders.

Any comments must be submitted by the deadline of 12 noon on Friday 1 March 2019 using the comments form provided. Comments will not be published but will inform the development of the final version of the quality standard which will be widely publicised.

You can read the draft document and participate in the consultation here.