Conference held at EU Parliament & Thon Hotel EU, Brussels, 17th October 2013logo-eular is a project initiated by EULAR and undertaken with the support of the European Commission. For the first time, thanks to the methods and tools developed with this initiative, it will be possible to assess, monitor and benchmark the burden of Rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) as well as the quality of care that people with RMDs receive in EU countries. This information will allow countries to set goals for improvements in the provision of health care as well as to measure progress towards equity of care, write Prof Anthony Woolf and EULAR President Prof Maurizio Cutolo in the foreword for the conference.

The conference brought together representatives from:

  • EU institutionseumusc-logo
  • Member state institutions
  • Research organisations
  • Medical and health professional associations
  • Patient organisations
  • Research funding bodies
  • Social service providers


The initial part of the day took place in the EU Parliament, involving speakers from EULAR, the EU commission, Ministry of Health in Lithuania, Association of People with RMDs in Crete, the WHO representative to the EU and; who each spoke about the need for standards of care for people with rheumatic conditions in the EU.

Anthony Woolf, the Scientific Coordinator, explained that one of the many outcomes of the project was a report on standards of care for two musculoskeletal conditions: Osteoarthritis, the most common joint disorder which accounts for more disability among the elderly than any other disease; and Rheumatoid Arthritis, the most common inflammatory disease of the joints.

The report covers all aspects of musculoskeletal conditions (MSC) although it was hard to find anything on connective tissue diseases. You can read the Standards of Care from the website, and do also explore the items listed under the Publications tab.


In the conference’s afternoon session delegates joined break-out workshops at the Thon Hotel, a short walk from the EU parliament.

The purpose of the workshops was discuss the barriers to successful implementation of each SOC. Such barriers will of course differ between member states but our group’s statement for discussion was: “People with Rheumatoid Arthritis should be assessed regularly to ensure disease control.” The main barrier might surprise you: it was the lack of Rheumatologists who understand RA and would understand the importance of regular assessment.

We were also trying to explore ways around the barriers as due to the lack of monetary funds within the EU. We decided that just demanding more Rheumatologists was not really an option, so we explored other ways, which included specialist nurses and other health practitioners who would assist the consultants in their already busy clinics.


In the final part of the day, Dr Isabel de la Mata, Principal Advisor for Public Health and Risk Assessment for the European Commission, suggested that we look at other areas regarding funding (rather than just concentrate on the Health Commission) such as the commission in charge of social security, for example.

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