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Parliamentary Debate on axial SpA (AS), 17 September 2020 

Landmark parliamentary debate highlights the NASS campaign for faster diagnosis time and better care for thousands of people living with axial (SpA)

Date: 18 September 2020

Yesterday’s parliamentary debate on axial SpA (AS) was a landmark moment in the campaign to reduce diagnosis times and improve the care for thousands of people living with axial SpA (AS).

One in 200 adults in the UK live with this painful and progressive form of inflammatory arthritis, yet the average time to diagnosis is 8.5 years. NASS is campaigning to reduce the delay to diagnosis to just one year and welcomed this historic debate.

The debate was led by Tom Randall MP, who lives with axial SpA (AS) and shared his own personal experience of a delay to diagnosis, including being passed from one health care professional another, before finally receiving the correct diagnosis.

During the debate, the delay to diagnosis in axial SpA (AS) was discussed in detail and Tom Randall MP asked for three commitments from Minister for Care, Helen Whatley including:

  • The adoption of a local inflammatory back pain pathway to support swift referral from primary care directly to rheumatology.
  • An awareness campaign would help to significantly raise the visibility of the condition not only among the public, but also among general practitioners and other primary care professionals.
  • Support for the routine adoption of minimum service specifications across the NHS to help to reassure patients.

In response, the Minster for Care agreed:

  • To meet with Tom Randall and NASS
  • Inflammatory back pain clinical pathways are vital
  • And that there is a possibility of support for a public awareness campaign.

Commenting on the debate, Dr Dale Webb, CEO of NASS said:

“We welcome the debate on axial SpA (AS) and thank Tom Randall MP for sharing his personal experiences of living with the condition. We also thank Munira Wilson MP and Andy Slaughter MP for their comments during the debate.

“We will now be working with Tom Randall MP and other members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Axial Spondyloarthritis to keep up political pressure to reduce delays in diagnosis and improve care for people living with axial SpA (AS).

“We would particularly welcome the opportunity to meet with Minister for Care, Helen Whatley, to discuss the governments ongoing commitment to supporting a better deal for thousands of people living in chronic pain.”

Anyone who missed the debate can watch it here (from 17.01) or read the full transcript on Hansard.