I recognise that living with can have a significant impact upon a person’s wellbeing, and quality of life.
Many treatments exist that can slow down the effects of arthritis, such as lifestyle changes, medicines and surgery. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is currently working on updated guidance for treatment of Osteoarhritis, which is due for publication following extensive in 2022. I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour and the benefits it will have on those living with arthritis. Versus Arthritis is already registered as a stakeholder in this process, proving the importance of this issue, and will to tackle it.
The NHS, which provides many key services, including for those suffering from arthritis, will be bolstered with an additional £33.9 billion by 2023/24, the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark investment to help secure the long-term funding of our NHS is extremely welcome, and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to provide what the NHS, and key public services, need.
Alongside with this funding, 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. NHS England has now prepared proposals, covering waiting times across the service, including elective procedures, mental health, cancer, and A&E.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, these recommendations have been deffered.
Whilst it has been crucial 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, alongside NHS Staff, are determined to restart the 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 could restart, including urgent ones, such as cancer care and mental health support. The exact pace of this restoration is determined by local circumstances, according to local need and demand, and the number of coronavirus cases being dealt with by local hospitals.
Aids and adaptations can greatly enhance the quality of life for people with arthritis. An independent review of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), which supports disabled people on low-incomes, was undertaken in 2018. This review considered how the DFG may need to adapt to changing innovation and technology in the aids and adaptions market. The Department of Health and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is analysing these recommendations, and I look forward to analysing their conclusions.
Funding for the DFG has also increased to £505 million for 2020 to 2021 from £220 million in 2015 to 2016 to £431 million in 2017 to 2018. There is much more that can, and must, be done. Clinical guidelines for arthritis currently highlight the importance of self-management, and to help patients manage their condition, and live as independently as possible. I also know that the Department for Work and Pensions ensures that people with arthritis applying for Personal Independence Payments are able to specify whether they need specific aids to help them with daily, physical tasks – making sure that they get the right support to improve their quality of life while maintaining their independence.
All this excellent work demonstrates the importance of tackling arthritis, and I look forward to seeing the next steps taken.