Happy New Year to all our supporters.
Although it is hard to feel that it will be happy for the NHS as winter crisis stories filled the media. Everyone in Government including the Prime Minister was forced to apologise as routine operations were postponed to help cope with the pressure of emergencies. Ministers appeared in the media to argue that the moves were part of a planned response and therefore there was no “crisis”. Listening to the coverage I took a small crumb of comfort: again and again, when giving an example of the negative impact of delays, hip and knee operations were mentioned. I heard all the arguments we make about the importance of MSK conditions – the impact on patients in terms of pain, the fact people may have to give up work. This awareness of the effectiveness of surgery for MSK conditions can only help the work we are doing to combat increasing restrictions by CCGs. By commissioning an effective pathway of care, including preventive services, NHS money could be better spent enabling those who do need surgery to get it rapidly, and those who don’t to manage their conditions better and continue to live the life they want.
ARMA has some exciting plans for 2018 which should capitalise on the increasing awareness of musculoskeletal conditions. At the end of last year Public Health England published guidance on healthy ageing and MSK health. NHS England has a number of initiatives aimed at improving MSK services, and we are looking forward to working with the Department for Work and Pensions on increasing the numbers of people with MSK conditions who are able to work. ARMA will continue to ensure that our members are able to support these opportunities. I’ve already had one meeting with one of our members about how they can engage with our networks to improve services locally, and I am looking forward to many more in the weeks to come. Look out for our new MSK Knowledge Hub to be launched early this year, and the next in our webinar series coming soon.
Whilst the NHS is undoubtedly struggling with many pressures, there will also be positives in 2018. From Public Health England giving more profile to MSK to the work and health agenda making progress along with our ongoing partnership working with NHS England and a new Wales ARMA network, there are so many opportunities for improving services and the lives of people with MSK conditions. So, I wish you a happy and positive 2018, and look forward to working with many of you to realise that.