Early diagnosis

Campaigning to improve early diagnosis rates of RA across the UK

There is a ‘window of opportunity’ for people diagnosed with RA. Those diagnosed and started on optimal treatment within 12-weeks stand a much better chance of achieving remission. However we know that many people with RA are not being diagnosed and treated in time (Link - Getting an early diagnosis video).

Poor public awareness and a lack of GP knowledge are causing significant delays. Research shows that people with symptoms of RA usually wait a number of months before first going to see their GP and then visit their GP several more times before being referred on to a specialist for diagnosis.

Although medical guidelines exist which note the importance of early diagnosis and some quality incentives also exist in the English NHS to encourage healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients there is no overall co-ordinated approach.

Poor public awareness has been largely ignored by policymakers. Scotland has begun to make progress by publishing a public awareness flyer, but the governments of England, Wales and Northern Ireland have failed to undertake any action.

In its place, NRAS has worked with partner organisations to develop the S Factor campaign on inflammatory arthritis, though we have not been able to measure the impact of this campaign. A co-ordinated approach to raising public awareness of RA is therefore urgently required.

What we are fighting for

We want to improve early diagnosis rates of RA. This means:

  • Introducing a public awareness campaign to enhance understanding of the symptoms of RA
  • Increasing GP training to ensure people with suspected RA are quickly referred to a specialist for diagnosis
  • Getting healthcare commissioners to improve measurement of RA early diagnosis rates

What we are doing

  • Disseminating messages from the S Factor campaign on inflammatory arthritis to the public
  • Working with the National Clinical Director for Musculoskeletal Conditions to introduce a co-ordinated approach to raising public awareness of inflammatory arthritis
  • Tabling parliamentary questions and discuss early diagnosis with politicians and officials
  • Publishing research and briefing papers about the impact of poor public awareness of RA

How you can help

  • Contact us with your case studies about the impact of poor public awareness on your RA - campaigns@nras.org.uk