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Arthritis suferrers face postcode lottery for care

Some health authorities are spending less than a pound a day helping people with arthritis and other joint problems, while others spend three times that, according to a review that has found a postcode lottery of care.Arthritis suferrers face postcode lottery for careThe survey by the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) has found an almost three-fold variation in the amount of money primary care trusts across England spend on services.

NHS Hartlepool spent £764 per patient in 2009-10, but NHS Peterborough only £275.

Examples of treatments they offer include physiotherapy, drugs, and pain management clinics.

The figures are detailed in a new report by ARMA, called Joint Delivery?

Professor David Marsh, chairman of the organisation, said: “Joint Delivery? shows that progress in delivering improved musculoskeletal care in the NHS has gone into reverse since ARMA’s previous audit in 2008.

“Urgent action is now needed to address variations in service provision and improve the quality of musculoskeletal services in the NHS.

“ARMA and its members are taking a lead by developing a musculoskeletal clinical network to improve services but we need national action to make musculoskeletal conditions a priority in the new NHS.

“That is why we are today calling for a national outcomes strategy for musculoskeletal conditions to ensure services deliver better outcomes for patients.”

At the moment about five per cent of the total NHS budget, some £4.76 billion, is spent on musculoskeletal conditions, making it the fourth highest area of programme budget spend.

Although spend had “risen rapdily in recent years”, according to ARMA, it warned that the area was at risk of being downgraded, with two-thirds of PCTs saying they had reduced the number of specialist commissioners who decide on care

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