Arthritis: Diagnosis

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 17th June 2019.

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Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of training for GPs in the early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of access to specialist rheumatologists.

Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

General practice is where most patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are likely to be managed, and the condition is identified as a key area of clinical knowledge in the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Advanced Knowledge Test (AKT) content guide. The AKT is a summative assessment of the knowledge base that underpins general practice in the United Kingdom within the context of the National Health Service and is a key part of general practitioner’s qualifying exams.

No specific assessment has been made on the adequacy of access to specialist rheumatologists, however the National institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) Quality Standard ‘Rheumatoid arthritis in over 16s’, updated in July 2018, emphasises the need for early for urgent referral to a specialist rheumatologist on suspicion of rheumatoid arthritis within three weeks.

In May 2018, a new three-year Rheumatoid and Early Inflammatory Arthritis Audit was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership. The Audit aims to improve the quality of care for people living with inflammatory arthritis, collecting information on all new patients over the age of 16 in specialist rheumatology departments with suspected inflammatory arthritis in England and Wales using criteria derived from sources, including the NICE rheumatoid arthritis Quality Standard. This includes assessment against the NICE standard stating that patients with suspected with RA should be seen within three weeks of referral to a rheumatology service.

More information can be found at the following link:

www.rheumatology.org.uk/Knowledge/Excellence/Audits

The findings of the Audit are due to be published in October 2019. However, previous Audit reports can be found at the following link:

www.hqip.org.uk/national-programmes/a-z-of-nca/arthritis-rheumatoid-and-early-inflammatory

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