CEO update by Sue Brown, ARMA

The general election is now in full swing. In amongst the Brexit debate, the NHS has been getting quite a bit of attention, albeit somewhat narrow in focus. I hope that after the election, whoever is in government, this debate will widen so that we can talk about health, not just the NHS, about more than hospitals, doctors and nurses.

One other thing an election brings is restrictions on what government bodies are allowed to do. For me that has meant lots of cancelled meetings, including one between the Minister leading on prevention and ARMA members. As soon as we know who will be responsible after the election, we will request the meeting is rescheduled. Prevention is more important in MSK than many people think, so we need to maintain its profile in this agenda.

There’s a lot going on in the NHS at the moment. At times it can feel difficult to keep up, but it also means there are lots of opportunities. Take the recent ARMA roundtable on pain (look out for the report coming soon). Some of those involved have been working on the issue for decades and during that time little has changed – in England at least; Scotland has made a bit more progress. Despite this, at the end of the afternoon there was a feeling of optimism, a feeling that some things in the NHS are moving in the right direction, that there are opportunities to get pain on the agenda in the right way.

I look forward to working with ARMA members to capitalise on these opportunities, not just around pain but also to drive MSK further up the NHS agenda until it has the profile it really deserves. MSK isn’t just doctors and nurses; it’s across the whole system. People with MSK conditions need support from a wide range of professionals, and they need them to work together effectively, even when not located in the same place or employed by the same person. Change is needed at every level – better public health and prevention services; support from primary and community health, and in hospital. People need this to join up seamlessly. They need everything from Primary Care Networks to transforming outpatients programmes to think MSK and put the patient at the centre.

The ARMA annual lecture is always a highlight of my November calendar. This year, as well as an excellent lecture on mental health from Brendon Stubbs, I had the privilege to use the opportunity to thank Peter Kay on behalf of the whole MSK community for his six years of hard work as National Clinical Director for MSK. In this time, he has worked tirelessly to drive MSK up the agenda, with a high degree of success. It’s in the NHS Long Term Plan, featured heavily in the Prevention Green Paper and there is now an MSK programme within Public Health England. Peter was a fantastic partner to ARMA and leaves a strong legacy for his yet to be announced successor.

However, there is still much to do. Whatever the political landscape after the election, I’m looking forward to working with ARMA members and a whole range of stakeholders to continue this drive for change. I’d like to thank our newsletter readers for your support in 2019. I hope you get a break at some point over the festive season, and I look forward to working with you all in 2020.

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