Thank you for writing to me about arthritis. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
I appreciate that arthritis can be a very painful and debilitating condition, and I recognise that living with a long-term condition can have a significant impact upon a person’s wellbeing. I would like to thank the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and Versus Arthritis for raising awareness of this issue.
I know that there is no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can help slow it down, including lifestyle changes, medicines and surgery. I welcome that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is presently working on updated guidance for treatment of Osteoarthritis, which is due for publication following extensive consultation in 2022. I will continue to monitor this issue closely, and I welcome that Versus Arthritis is already registered as a stakeholder in this process.
The NHS is being provided with an additional £33.9 billion by 2023/24, which is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark investment to help secure the long term future of our NHS is extremely welcome, and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to properly funding our NHS and public services.
Alongside this, the NHS was asked to undertake a clinical review of standards relating to waiting times. This must be clinically led to enable best, and safest, delivery of care for patients. I understand that NHS England has now prepared proposals, covering waiting times across the service, including elective procedures, mental health, cancer, and A&E.
It is my understanding that the recommendations following this review have been deferred as part of the NHS response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but please be assured that I will monitor this situation closely and carefully study the recommendations in due course.
I know that, while it has been important to postpone some NHS activities to protect individuals and enable resources to be used as efficiently as possible, my colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as NHS Staff, are determined to restart elective procedures as soon as it is safe to do so. I was delighted when the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced on 27th April that, from the following day, NHS services began restarting, including the most urgent, like cancer care and mental health support. The exact pace of this restoration is determined by local circumstances, according to local need and demand, and according to the number of coronavirus cases being dealt with by the hospital.
For more information please see below some useful links:
Between 2014/15 and 2018/19, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded 42 research programmes and individual awards, including doctoral research fellowships and clinical lectureships, on rheumatoid arthritis, with a total value of £18.5m. In addition, in March 2019 the UK Musculoskeletal Translational Research Collaboration launched, a partnership between NIHR and the charity Versus Arthritis. This brings together a range of specialists and research facilities to drive cutting edge research and improve outcomes for patients: rheumatoid arthritis is at the forefront of this work.
I would like to pay tribute to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and Versus Arthritis for the terrific work they are doing. Please be assured that I recognise the impact of arthritis on a person’s wellbeing, and I will continue to lobby Government and ministerial colleagues about this important matter.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking