It’s hard to describe a month like the one we’ve just had, which has been characterised by many positive things for our community, but overshadowed by external events. Like me, many of you will feel worried and dismayed at the result of the EU referendum. There is no denying that whatever the practical implications of it – politically, for the NHS, for our respective areas of work – and whatever actually ends up happening at the end of what could well turn out to be a long and winding road, this result casts tremendous uncertainty over the UK, and Europe, in many different ways and for some time to come.
I’ve talked a lot about the value of networks over the years. In 2014 I wrote this blog for National Voices, reflecting on the meaning of a “network society.” ARMA is a network: we work together, collaboratively, to tackle the shared challenges we all face, and achieve our shared objectives. EULAR is a network. The Global Alliance for MSK Health is a network. Our members have their own networks. Networks know no boundaries. And the really key thing about networks is that they are more than the sum of their parts: they create their own value, their own wealth, their own social capital, by virtue of transcending boundaries, and generating the “transformational change” we’ve all often heard about. By breaking down barriers, they enable the kind of multiculturalism that makes a city like London, where many of us are based, and a country like the UK genuinely special. The same goes for the NHS, where multidisciplinary working is clearly the way forward. Which is why when walls go back up, it’s both damaging and disheartening.
It’s very difficult to say what will happen now; with our two main parties locked in internal power struggles; the Lib Dems already promising to keep the UK in the EU; Scotland putting a fresh stake in the ground over independence; our government’s lines of negotiation with the EU far from clear; mixed messages from lots of people about access to the single market; a petition for a second referendum, which has attracted over 4m signatures; and growing voices of dissent and calls for an early General Election. The events of the last five days alone in both the Tory and Labour parties are enough to make the Borgias look like one happy family. Just like a real-life box set, it feels like there may well be many more twists in the tale before we know for sure where we stand, in almost any respect.
The start of June saw the annual EULAR conference in London, where ARMA and several of our patient-led member organisations had a stand, and which by all accounts was very positive and productive. The next Edgar Stene prize competition is now open: see below.
Positive and productive also describes ARMA’s growing collaboration with NHS Right Care, which is going from strength to strength. In addition to providing input to their programme of Optimal Value Pathways, one of which will focus on fragility fractures, and in addition to the new Commissioning for Value packs, which have used some of the MSK indicators identified by our community, I was also invited to speak at NHS Right Care sessions at two conferences this past month. The first was an HFMA conference on “spending wisely”, where I highlighted the value of programmes like ESCAPE Pain and some of the resources produced by ARMA members, including the FLS benefits calculator and the physiotherapy cost calculator. Good care is everybody’s business, not least the finance managers’, among other things because bad care costs more, and is unsustainable. The latter event was the Right Care stream at the Health + Care conference, where again I talked about the MSK clinical networks project and encouraged everyone to sign up to our Knowledge Network.
This last week we held our second meeting with Prof Kevin Fenton and his team at Public Health England, where we discussed, among other things, developing an MSK narrative following the “mapping” documents which we’ve produced on MSK and work and MSK and physical activity, based on our members’ input. Please also continue to help promote the One You campaign through your websites, member communications and social media. At the end of August (around the same time as the publication of a Green Paper on health and work), this campaign will have a special focus on physical activity. We also discussed the merit of developing an MSK equivalent of the mental health toolkit for employers recently produced by Business in the Community.
Finally, I’m very excited about Arthritis Research UK’s newly-launched MSK Health Questionnaire, which is the result of a long and collaborative effort involving the entire MSK community and healthcare experts, and which will no doubt be an extremely useful tool in helping to not only capture the “right” MSK data and evidence much more consistently and systematically, but ultimately make services more outcomes-focused and patient-centred.
This month’s guest blog is by Dr. Peter Lanyon, President of the BSR. In addition, Henry Mace, Professional Development Lead at the National Osteoporosis Society, has also written a blog for NHS England on reducing fragility fractures, ahead of their upcoming webinar on 21 July (see link for details).
All the best,
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”