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Second meeting of the APPG for Axial SpA

On the 9 July 2019 the All Party Parliamentary Group for axial SpA (AS) had it's second meeting

Assessing the uptake of key NICE Guidance for Axial SpA (AS)

The second meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Axial Spondyloarthritis took place on 9 July in the House of Commons. The meeting was chaired by Lord Campbell-Savours, with 5 other parliamentarians in attendance. Guests of the APPG, which included people with axial SpA (AS), health professionals and representatives from NHS organisations, gathered to hear presentations from Dr Jon Packham (Consultant Rheumatologist, Haywood Hospital, Stoke on Trent) and Dr Antoni Chan (Consultant Rheumatologist, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading), looking at the uptake of the NICE Guideline and Quality Standard for Spondyloarthritis. This followed on from the first meeting where the impact of living with axial SpA was discussed.

In a powerful presentation, Dr Packham revealed the preliminary results of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that had been sent out on behalf of the APPG by NASS. The FOI asked for information on the current level of services provided for people with axial SpA, based on a ten-question quality framework developed by NASS, and was sent to all commissioners and providers in England. Some of the most prominent results included:

  • Fewer than 50% of CCGs have an Inflammatory Back Pain (IBP) pathway in place.
  • Very few commissioners have local arrangements to raise awareness of axial SpA (AS) in primary care.
  • Almost one third of services do not offer specialist physiotherapy.
  • Only 43% of Trusts have a dedicated axial SpA clinic.
  • Only one quarter of rheumatology services offer access to psychological services.

We’re continuing to gather FOI responses, and further analysis will take place to be produced as a report by the APPG. Answers to the same questions will also be requested in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Dr Antoni Chan then gave an insight into his work implementing the Guideline and Quality Standard locally, including working with primary care and the collaborative work of the South Coast Axial Spondyloarthritis Network (SCAN) – a group of health professionals from across the region which shares experiences to collectively improve services and the patient experience.

Heartfelt thanks go to the presenters and of course all of those who attended. The lively and informative discussion involving a wide range of attendees will help to direct the future activity of the APPG which includes tackling the delay to diagnosis and the role of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

Together we will make the necessary impact.