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 40 member organisations ranging from specialised support groups for rare diseases to major research charities and national professional bodies.


The LUPUS UK North Wales Lupus Information Day will take place on Saturday, 12 May 2018, in Llandudno.

The afternoon will feature a number of medical experts speaking, including:

Dr Yasmeen Ahmad
Consultant Rheumatologist, Peter Maddison Rheumatology Centre, Llandudno Hospital

Anne Breslin
Rheumatology Specialist Nurse, Peter Maddison Rheumatology Centre, Llandudno Hospital

Dr Eve Smith & Professor Christian Hedrich
NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer, University of Liverpool, Paediatric Trainee Alder Hey Children’s Hospital & Paediatric Rheumatologist Professor of Child Health at University of Liverpool

Trish Bartley
Senior Teacher and Trainer at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University

The presentations will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Venue: The Imperial Hotel Conference Centre, The Promenade, Vaughan St, Llandudno, LL30 1AP.

Tickets are available free of charge and can be requested online here.

Together for Mental Health in North Wales is an all-ages plan for mental health services in North
Wales covering the period up to 2021.

It has been put together by NHS Wales with partner organisations and with people who have lived experience of mental health issues. The project is supported by Caniad, an organisation created to involve people with lived experience in the design, delivery and evaluation of our mental health services.

The strategy outlines NHS Wales’s ambition to offer a comprehensive range of services that:

  • Promote health and wellbeing for everyone, focussing on prevention of mental ill health, and
    early intervention when required;
  • Treat common mental health conditions in the community as early as possible;
  • Are community-based wherever possible, reducing our reliance on inpatient care;
    Identify and treat serious mental illness as early as possible;
  • Manage acute and serious episodes of mental illness safely, compassionately, and
  • Support people to recovery, to regain and learn the skills they need after mental illness; and
  • Assess and treat the full range of mental health problems, working alongside services for
    people with physical health needs

Open the Together for Mental Health in North Wales strategy update document [PDF]
Law yn Llaw at Iechyd Meddwl yng Ngogledd Cymru – Chwefror 2018 [PDF]


On 28 November 2017, the UK Gout Society joined forces with Welsh Assembly Members, doctors and other charities to help raise awareness of gout in Wales.

Speaking at the Welsh Assembly, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, the Plaid Cymru Health Spokesperson who hosted the event, said: “The impact of musculoskeletal conditions in Wales is huge and we have a big job to limit that impact. Working together to raise awareness of gout must play a part. We know that gout is often seriously undertreated and greatly misunderstood.”

Arthritis Care Wales and the UK Gout Society called for the British Society for Rheumatology’s recent guidelines for managing gout to be fully implemented in Wales.

High profile parliamentary attendees included the Chair of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee; the Minister for Social Care; and the Leader of Opposition and Welsh Conservatives.

Two leading gout experts also spoke about the burden of gout and diagnosis and treatment: Professor Ernest Choy, Head of Rheumatology and Translational Research, Cardiff University; and Dr Martin Bevan, Lead Clinician, Consultant Rheumatologist, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB. Two people living with gout also talked about how gout affects their everyday lives and the importance of seeking help and support from a health professional.


UK Gout Society’s Friends newsletter


Take a moment to see the January 2018 edition of the UK Gout Society’s ‘Friends’ newsletter, which includes articles on:

  • New Year Charity Symphony Orchestra raises gout awareness on BBC South Today TV
  • Gout and Diet – how certain foods containing quercetin can reduce your uric acid levels
  • Meon Valley Orchestra – 10 March 2018, Fundraising concert in Portsmouth

Click here for the newsletter in PDF.

The North Wales ARMA Network has set advance details of its meetings for next year.

A map and directions are provided for meetings to be held on :-

• Tuesday 23th January 16:30 – 18:30 hours
• Tuesday 17th April 16:30 – 18:30 hours
• Tuesday 3th July 16:30 – 18:30 hours
• Tuesday 16th October 16:30 – 18:30 hours

Download full details in pdf format.

AMs in the National Assembly for Wales voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion calling for a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service to be developed in Wales. Despite Cabinet Members abstaining, 27 AMs voted to support the motion, with nine abstentions and none against. There is now significant pressure on the government to take action.

Arthritis Care Wales, the British Society for Rheumatology and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society have been campaigning to ensure children with arthritis in Wales have access to vital services. Wales is the only home nation without a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service, so many families in Wales travel long distances to access healthcare.

The debate follows a drop-in event organised by the three charities at the end of June, which over 20 AMs attended to find out more about the impact of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and the need to improve paediatric rheumatology provision in Wales.
Find out more about the debate.

Upcoming North Wales support group meetings for people with arthritis and chronic pain.


7th August 2017
4th September 2017
2nd October 2017
6th November 2017
4th December 2017

Holywell Community Hospital, North Wales.
The meeting room is behind the cafe and opposite the reception area.

Open full-size and save the flyer for more details, or see the North Wales Arthritis & Chronic Pain Support Group Facebook page.

Wales is the only home nation without a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service, so many children and families in Wales travel long distances to access vital services. Arthritis Care believes children with arthritis in Wales deserve better.

That is why Arthritis Care Wales, together with the British Society for Rheumatology and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, held a drop-in event in Cardiff on the 28 June 2017 to talk to Assembly Members about the impact of childhood arthritis and the need for better services.

You can find more information about our paediatric rheumatology campaign here.

CEO-editorial-small After the success of our first three MSK pathway events I’m pleased that planning for the next three has begun. The North West event will be in Merseyside on May 16th and is shaping up to be every bit as inspiring as the others. Two events are being planned for the South region, with the first in Exeter in July. More details should be available in our next newsletter.

I have been reading the pledge forms completed by people at the first three events and they show the commitment of people to create change in services. There’s lots of talk of collaboration, improving communication and implementing evidence based good practice. Pledges include words like “set up” “implement” and “establish”, showing that these meetings are not just one off events, but will make a real difference locally.

I am writing this from the BSR Rheumatology 2017 conference, where ARMA has a stand and a session entitled “MSK Networks: leading the way in a changing landscape”. That title sums up the challenges and opportunities for ARMA and our members.  The challenges are all too real, for instance reports in  the Observer on longer waits for hip and knee surgery for smokers and obese patients. ARMA will be co-ordinating members with an interest in this issue to look at the best way to respond.

I am finding the MSK community very ready to rise to a challenge and contribute positively to the changing agenda. MSK has a big role to play in the changing NHS landscape. If you miss us at the BSR conference we’ll also be at the Back Pain Show on 19 & 20 May. Why not come along and find out how you can be part of our work?

ARMA does a lot of work in partnership with NHS England, but it is important to remember that outside England health is the responsibility of the devolved nations. So I am really pleased to be supporting the establishment of an ARMA Cymru network, led by Arthritis Care Cymru. There is an existing North Wales ARMA group which has been doing a great job of influencing locally, thanks to the tireless work of their Chair, Chris Sweetnam, who is retiring after ten very effective years. North Wales ARMA will continue to work locally and ARMA Cymru will focus on influencing policy at the Wales level. Welsh Government officials are currently at the initial stages of developing a new Wales MSK policy, ARMA Cymru will aim to feed into and support the development of that policy.  If you are interested in joining either group, please let us know.

Finally, I must thank the ARMA members I have met during my first two months in the job. You have been incredibly generous with offers of advice and support. It is clear there is a real vision for what ARMA can achieve and a strong commitment to working together to make it happen.

Budget 2017

Arthritis Care’s response to the Budget welcomed the announcement of £2 billion of additional funding for social care in England as a step in the right direction, but argued that it falls far short of what is needed. We also blogged about what we wanted from the Budget here, calling for long-term solutions to the health and care crisis in England and an end to benefit cuts.


Judi Rhys appointed as Non-Executive Director of Public Health Wales

Judi Rhys, Chief Executive of Arthritis Care, has been appointed as the Third Sector Member (Non-Executive Director) at Public Health Wales. This complements her role as Arthritis Care’s Chief Executive. More information is available here.

The British Society for Rheumatology has a number of high profile and exciting positions available for members to apply.

Current vacancies:

  • BSR and BHPR President elect
  • Regional and Devolved Nation Chairs
  • BSR Standing Committee
  • BRiTs Advisory group
  • BHPR Council

Vacancies close: 28 March 2017

For more information speak to your regional chair or visit the BSR website.

BSR Rheumatology Researcher Mentoring Scheme

Have you signed up for the 2017 Rheumatology Researcher Mentoring Scheme?

The scheme provides support to individuals looking to move into an academic career or who would like to gain first hand research experience. Applicants will be paired with more experienced researchers who will support them in setting out and attaining their next research goal.

If you are interested in getting involved, as a mentee or mentor, visit the BSR website for more information and to download an application form.

Applications for mentees close on 24 February 2017.

Rheumatology 2017

25-27 Apr 2017 | ICC Birmingham

Have you booked your conference ticket? Now is the time to make BIG savings by booking your early bird ticket by 10 February 2017.

For the first time we’re offering a discounted rate to our conference dinner. Hosted at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, 26 April 2017. Those who will be joining us will be taking a step back into the 1920’s embracing swing dancing, live performances, sequin dresses, tuxedos and MORE!.

The only way to secure discounts is to book your conference and dinner tickets by 10 February 2017.

Arthritis in Wales

Following up from previous meetings between BSR and the Welsh Assembly Members last year, the Welsh government has released information about arthritis and musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions in wales.

Our meeting with Janet Finch-Saunders AM who represents Aberconwy, asked about some of the figures noted in the BSR’s report; State of Play: Rheumatology in Wales on 13 December 2016. View the full response from the meeting.

Following the meeting with Mr Rhuan ap Iorwerth AM, a written Assembly Question was tabled requesting the details of the timeframe for developing the Welsh Government’s new Arthritis and MSK national plan. The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething AM, responded stating “initial scoping work has commenced to refresh the commissioning directive for arthritis and chronic MSK conditions and the revised directive is expected to be published in the next financial year. The need for paediatric service provision across Wales will be also considered.”

Developing Ultrasound – Limited places!

03-04 Feb | Wigan

Hurry! Limited places remain to join us for this two day, hands-on course with supervised, individual and group practice sessions on real patients.

Covering a comprehensive review of regional musculoskeletal ultrasound, diagnosis of MSK pathology and the pitfalls of interpretation.

The highlights from the course include ultrasound in:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spondyloarthropathy
  • Crystal disease
  • Remission.

In addition there are sessions on temporal artery scanning, guided procedures and much more.

Book your place via this link.

Joint release from: British Society for Rheumatology and National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society

Rheumatology and arthritis societies raise concerns for arthritis services in Wales and call for more support to improve long-term patient outcomes.

The number of patients referred to rheumatology departments in Wales has increased by 66% since 2012, but resources for treatment are not keeping up with the demand, say patients and clinicians. As a consequence, new patients are waiting longer to be seen and treated and existing patients are struggling to secure follow up appointments and self-management advice.  

These findings are important as there are 25,000 people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in Wales, and 12% of the adult population in Wales identify themselves to have some form of arthritis. This is similar to the number of people identified as having a mental illness (13%) and higher than those with diabetes (7%). 

The findings are taken from a new joint report by the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) Rheumatology in Wales: The State of Play which is released today. The report is part of a series of reports that investigate how rheumatology services in the UK are being delivered.

Specifically focusing on services for newly diagnosed patients, the report identified that:

  • The number of patients receiving a rheumatology appointment within 6 weeks of GP referral has declined over the last year to just 39% as of June 2016. 
  • Just 22% of patients in Wales with RA in 2016 were being seen within three weeks, compared to the national average of 37%*
  • Wales has the lowest number of Early Inflammatory Arthritis (EIA) Clinics compounding the service delays.
  • Wales is the best performing region of the UK for GP referrals, with 46% of newly diagnosed RA patients being referred within within 3 days* of first presentation, compared to the UK average of 20%.

RA patients already within the system also face problems, including:

  • 40% reported that intervals between appointments were too long to keep their condition under control, and 35% found it difficult or very difficult to get an appointment with their consultant.
  • Only 52% of patients in Wales received education and self-management for RA within one month of diagnosis compared to a national average of 67%. 
  • 35% of NRAS’ members stated they were not given information on services or organisations who could give them further support, and 30% indicated nobody had spoken to them about the emotional impact of their condition.   

Early diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory arthritis is crucial to avoiding long-term damage and disability, both of which commonly lead to unemployment and further burden on health and welfare support services.

Peter Lanyon, BSR President, commented:

“Both feedback from our membership, the NRAS survey and the National Clinical Audit indicate variation in care across Wales for people living with inflammatory arthritis. We hope that this report should stimulate action across Wales to provide rheumatology services, and the professionals working within them, with the support they require to deliver consistently high quality care to their patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders.”

Rich Flowerdew, Welsh Ambassador for NRAS, said:

“These results are worrying and show that NHS Wales and Local Health Boards need to support rheumatology services to meet quality standards for the treatment of RA. It is abundantly clear that patients are not being seen enough within the 12-week window of opportunity of diagnosis. If patients are seen to within this window, their longer-term outcomes look better.”

The report incorporated a number of data sources which included an NRAS survey of 257 people with RA to gain greater understanding of their experience of health and care in Wales. In addition, BSR consulted many of its professional members, which consist of health professionals such as consultant rheumatologists, GPs, physiotherapists and specialist nurses who work in Wales. The report also includes the data from the National Clinical Audit for Rheumatoid and Early Inflammatory Arthritis.

This report forms part of a series the BSR has produced starting with The State of Play in Rheumatology: Insights into service pressures and solutions in 2015, which highlighted the status of rheumatology services throughout the UK, followed by Rheumatology in Scotland: The State of Play. The fourth report in this series, planned for 2017, focuses on services in Northern Ireland and will enable us to explore similarities and differences in provision of care across the UK. 

Rheumatology in Wales: The State of Play is available to download now from the BSR website.

*Key service quality standard from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

arthritis-care-wales-square-280Arthritis Care Wales is looking for representatives from voluntary sector organisations who would like to join a new MSK alliance, with the aim of sharing knowledge and working together to shape the policy agenda. If you are interested in hearing more, please contact


Save the date: Arthritis Care Week 2017

Plans are underway for next year’s Arthritis Care Week, which will take place from 8-14 May.