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.