Belfast Telegraph

Dodds calls for RA care

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has vowed to raise the care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis with the Department of Health.

He was speaking after a meeting with members of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) at Westminster.

A report from the charity found that the costs to the UK economy of the condition, arising from productivity losses, total almost £8 billion; this is about £12 million per parliamentary constituency.

RA is a chronic and disabling autoimmune disease, affecting about 690,000 people in the UK.

It has no known cause or cure and almost 30% of people with RA surveyed by NRAS in 2007 gave up work within a year of diagnosis.

APublic Accounts Committee report highlighted significant variations in the spending on and quality of services for people with RA and other musculoskeletal conditions across the country.

Mr Dodds commented: “People with rheumatoid arthritis deserve to receive the care and treatment on the NHS and I commend the work of NRAS in highlighting the variations in spend and in the quality of service across the country.

“I will be enquiring of our Department of Health and local Health Trusts to find out what they are doing to tackle both the health and economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis,” he vowed.

Ailsa Bosworth, of NRAS, urged government to address the recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee as a priority.

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