To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) how many people are suffering from musculoskeletal disease; and if he will make a statement;
(2) how much money was spent by the NHS on the management and treatment of musculoskeletal disease in the last year for which figures are available;
(3) what assessment he has made of equality of access to treatment and services for musculoskeletal disease; and if he will make a statement.
Three of the most commonly occurring musculoskeletal conditions are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Arthritis Care estimates that between 8 and 10 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from the condition.
Information on how much was spent by the national health service on the management and treatment of musculoskeletal disease specifically is not collected centrally. Primary care trusts (PCTs) receive allocations to cover the costs of all hospital and community health services to meet the needs of the population they serve. The level of funding made available for the drugs, staffing and other costs of managing and treating musculoskeletal conditions is determined locally. It is for PCTs, in partnership with other local stakeholders, to determine how best to use their funds to provide health services for their populations, including those with musculoskeletal conditions.
Following reviews by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the Department has made two new classes of drugs, Cox II inhibitors and anti-TNF therapy available to patients with these conditions.
The Department is driving forward a major programme of work to improve equality of access to all NHS treatment and care services. Maximum waiting times have fallen over the past few years and will continue to do so. By the end of 2005, the maximum waiting time for a first out-patient appointment with a consultant will fall to three months and the maximum wait for in-patient treatment will fall to six months. This will help all NHS patients, including those with musculoskeletal conditions.