Over the last few weeks I have been so impressed with the way the world of MSK has responded to the extraordinary challenge of the coronavirus outbreak. I have seen everyone working to deliver across professional and organisational boundaries at unprecedented speed. Of course, no one ever wants to face a crisis like this and we can’t work at this pace all the time. But we have shown what can be achieved if we pull together around a common aim.
It’s not been easy. Small patient organisations have experienced a tsunami of calls from worried members who could no longer get through to the NHS. They have pulled out all the stops to respond with website information, webinars, Facebook live. Professional bodies have been supporting members with rapid introduction of remote consultations, the need to prioritise and work more flexibly than ever before. ARMA members supporting private healthcare practitioners have had to advise them on everything from remote consultations to how private HCPs can help support the NHS.
ARMA has been enabling collaboration between members, information sharing and joint action. We’ve been gathering intelligence from our members about the reality on the ground and using this to help inform NHS England’s response. I have found myself working on a vast range of issues: from NICE rapid guidance for rheumatology to employment rights for people at high risk; from self-management resource for people who can’t access their usual health care to advice for families with children who need to shield. I would like to thank everyone whose collaboration has made this collective response possible. It’s been a privilege to support this work.
Just before lockdown I was working on our first ever ARMA conference on 30 November, focused on MDT and cross system working. It was (and still is) really exciting. We have some great speakers booked and tickets have just gone on sale. Even if large gatherings are still not permitted, we have contingency plans to deliver a remote conference. The networking might feel a little different but responding creatively is something that has become the new normal, so I know everyone will find a way to make it work.
In the last few days, I have noticed people beginning to talk about the future. Before all this there were some exciting things happening in MSK. Some of them are now on hold, some have been accelerated. The conference will be a chance to discuss some of them. At the end of this, whenever that might be, we won’t go back, we’ll go forward.