You are helping to make arthritis impossible to ignore

08 November 2021

In July, over 46,000 of us demanded that governments across the UK do more to bring down waiting times and support people with arthritis waiting for surgery at our petition hand-in.

Since then, we’ve continued to ensure that arthritis remains a political priority - and the voices of people with arthritis have been key to making these issues Impossible to Ignore.

Demanding more support for people with arthritis waiting for surgery

Thousands of you emailed your elected representative and asked them to contact your local health services about implementing Versus Arthritis’ Joint Replacement Support Package, which recommended a range of measures that could be implemented locally to support people as they wait for life-changing joint replacement surgery.

As a result, 42 MPs wrote to their local health services, ensuring that the recommendations were seen by decision makers in local areas across the UK.

Even more excitingly, local health services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have funded Versus Arthritis we can offer support and self-management to approximately 900 local people on waiting lists for hip and knee surgery.

We are pushing for further support across the UK

In Scotland, we‘re working with the NHS in a number of areas to develop versions of our Joint Replacement Support Package.

And, in Northern Ireland, we’re working closely with our network of local campaigners on a version of the support package recommendations that will be presented to the Health Minister, Robin Swann.

We’ll continue to promote these vital support recommendations in our conversations with elected representatives and decision makers, with the aim to extend these supports across more areas.

More government funding and national plans are needed to tackle the backlog

As part of our Impossible to Ignore petition, we called on governments to take action to address the backlog.

On 27 October, the Chancellor announced:

  • The Department of Health and Social Care is to receive an extra £5.6 billion on top of the £12 billion previously announced by the Government in September.
  • A commitment of £1.5 billion in funding for new surgical hubs, for increased bed capacity and equipment to help elective services recover, including surgeries and other medical procedures.

The Scottish Government published its NHS Recovery Plan in September, which is committed to:

  • Tackling the surgical backlog through new National Treatment Centres across Scotland.
  • This will include an additional 1500 staff, which are part of a £1billion investment in rebuilding the NHS post-pandemic.

Significant additional funding has also been announced by the Welsh Government to tackle the waiting times backlog in Wales.

In addition, the Welsh Government will be:

  • Developing a national orthopaedic clinical strategy to support the redevelopment of orthopaedic services and
  • committing funding for Wales’s first Clinical Leads for Musculoskeletal and Arthritis Services.

These were two main calls in Cymru Versus Arthritis’ manifesto ahead of the Senedd elections earlier this year, so these announcements constitute a massive success for Versus Arthritis in Wales.

With tens of thousands of you signing our petition, your voices have been a vital part of keeping arthritis central to these conversations.

We will continue to lobby Governments to reduce the waiting times for people waiting for joint replacement surgery.

Making arthritis impossible to ignore this World Arthritis Day

Over 2000 of you emailed your elected representatives to ask them to help secure a commitment that Government funding would be invested in bringing down joint replacement waiting times and supporting people waiting for surgery.

For World Arthritis Day, on 12 October, over 2000 of you emailed your elected representatives to ask them to help secure. Your efforts had a real impact.

We co-hosted an event on waiting times at the Conservative Party Conference in October, and afterwards Edward Argar MP (Minister of State for Heath) invited Versus Arthritis to meet with him.

At this meeting, we were thrilled to hear from the Minister that he had personally been contacted by our campaigners as part of World Arthritis Day.

Consequently, he’s keen to hear more about how people with arthritis have been affected by delays to their joint replacement surgery. We will be meeting with the Minister again soon.

Similarly, in Northern Ireland, it was down to the World Arthritis Day campaign and the thousands of campaigners who contacted their elected representatives, that we were able to secure an important meeting with Health Minister Robin Swann.

In Wales, since our Word Arthritis Day activities, the Welsh Government has announced an additional £170m to improve planned care services.

Your actions, and your emails, have a real impact when it comes to keeping the issues faced by people with arthritis in the political consciousness.

Get involved and help make arthritis Impossible to Ignore

You can join us in demanding more from governments across the UK. 

Tell your MP or politicians they must call on government to take decisive action to ensure no one waiting for surgery feels abandoned.

We’re here whenever you need us.