Increasing the number of specialist rheumatology staff benefits patients while saving the NHS money

Increasing the number of specialist rheumatology staff benefits patients while saving the NHS money

New research by the British Society for Rheumatologists (BSR) suggests that increasing the number of specialist healthcare professionals in rheumatology improves the health and lives of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and saves the NHS money.


A group of healthcare professionals standing togetherThe British Society for Rheumatologists (BSR) have recently done some research looking at the impact of increasing the rheumatology workforce on the health, and costs of treating, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They found that growing the rheumatology workforce had a number of benefits for patients, including reducing diagnostic and treatment delays, which meant patients could access specialist care sooner and have improved outcomes. These improved outcomes then had a number of other effects, such as less need for surgery and fewer symptoms, meaning people were able to attend work and social events more.

Increasing the number of rheumatology specialists would cost money, however, this research also found that it would save £50 million over 5 years, and would save enough money in the first year to pay for itself. You can read the full scientific research report HERE.

BSR have published a manifesto for change in rheumatology care called ‘the People We Need: our plan to grow the rheumatology workforce to enable excellent rheumatology care’. This report sets out how they want the government to increase rheumatology to ensure excellent care for rheumatology patients, including numbers of specialist consultants, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. You can read the full manifesto HERE.

Jack Buck from BSR says:

“Looking just at new incidents of RA, our research shows the health and societal costs are reduced by £50 million over 5 years when Rheumatology services are staffed in-line with our People We Need recommendations. This research is indicative of only one condition, Rheumatoid Arthritis, but we are also confident that those cost savings will grow when taking in to account the added benefit of improved care of a larger workforce in other Rheumatic and MSK disease areas.”


What do LUPUS UK think about the research?

“This is an excellent piece of work by the BSR. Whilst the results are focussed on rheumatoid arthritis, we know that investment in growing the rheumatology workforce will also benefit people with other rheumatic diseases, including lupus. For many years, LUPUS UK has recognised the need for investment in specialist rheumatology services and we have provided support by funding Lupus Clinical Nurse Specialists in NHS Trusts for terms of five years. These posts demonstrate significant value, usually becoming a permanent addition to the Trusts’ infrastructures. However, our efforts are a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. We hope that the Government recognise the meaningful difference that investment in the rheumatology workforce can make for our society.”

Paul Howard (LUPUS UK Chief Executive)


How can you support the campaign?

The BSR have launched a campaign to urge the government to implement their recommendations. If you would like to support the campaign:

  • You can watch and share the BSR’s Living Free video, which aims to share the benefit of improved quality of life for people with rheumatic conditions
  • You can share the BSR’s tweets or facebook posts
  • You can contact your MP and urge them to support the pledge to increase the number of rheumatology specialists. The BSR have an example letter you can use on their website HERE.


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