Collaboration is for life

This month sees Bone and Joint Week and I am looking forward to cutting the ribbon at our virtual launch event and declaring the week open. It’s a week of celebration of the importance of musculoskeletal health and its role in enabling us to live independent healthy lives. It’s a chance of all of us to come together and celebrate the role we play in promoting good MSK health and support for those with MSK conditions. All of us, those living with MSK conditions, professionals and patient organisations must be partners if we are to realise ARMA’s vision.

A few weeks ago, GIRFT published a report on rheumatology services. It tells a powerful story and makes some strong recommendations for what needs to be done. There is, however, very little reference to patient organisations’ role. Yet patient organisations play a big role in providing support groups, national helplines, self-management support, information, reassurance and support to professionals and services. If you want to find out more, look out for our webinar on 22 October setting out all the many ways that patient organisations can support professionals to deliver better outcomes for patients.

NHS England has just published guidance for the new ICSs about working with people and communities. Their 10 principles include the importance of working with the voluntary sector as key partners. That will include all the patient organisations which are part of ARMA, both the national bodies and all their local groups and services.

Working with the team behind the Best MSK Health programme at NHS England is always a pleasure because these principles are accepted. It is accepted that things should be coproduced with people with lived experience, and that the input of patient organisations is of equal value to that of clinicians. Everyone contributes and challenges and the results are always stronger for it.

Bone and Joint Week is a chance for all of us to celebrate our own and others contribution to getting MSK services, and the MSK health of the population where we all know it should be. So I urge you to get involved, come to the launch event, join us on twitter #BoneJointWeek, support our members’ activities or just use the week as a spur to talk to others about the importance of MSK health. But remember, collaboration is for life, not just for one week.