As chair of a new group aiming to help those suffering from a painful form of inflammatory arthritis, West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas is pressing for an end to the long wait patients currently have for a correct diagnosis.
Mr Thomas is the first chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Axial spondyloarthritis (AS) which will provide national oversight of new care guidelines.
AS affects 1 in 200 adults in the UK, with symptoms usually starting by the age of 24, but since awareness of AS among GPs and the general public is poor, there is an average delay of diagnosis of eight and a half years.
Although the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently published a Quality Standard which sets out recommendations relating to the diagnosis and management of AS, there are no mechanisms in place to ensure widespread and effective implementation.
The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) has been working with parliamentarians to develop an APPG to provide national pressure on NHS commissioners and providers to implement the NICE Standard in full.
Mr Thomas said: “I am very pleased to act as chair of this new group as we know that early diagnosis can improve the health and wellbeing of someone with AS.
“It’s crucial that the NICE guidelines are implemented fully across the country so that no-one has to live in pain without treatment and support.”
This development is part of a larger campaign led by NASS called ‘Every Patient, Every Time’, which calls for every patient to receive early diagnosis and effective care.