Rachael Hamilton MSP was delighted to attend the first Holyrood reception to be held by the newly merged charity, Arthritis Research UK incorporating Arthritis Care Scotland on 5th December, where they heard from people living with arthritis about the healthcare and support they need in Scotland.
Arthritis is among the biggest causes of disability and pain across Scotland, with nearly 700,000 people living with osteoarthritis, around 37,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis and almost one million people with back pain.
16,728 residents are living with osteoarthritis, the most common form of the condition, in the NHS Borders Health Board Area right now – 15.1% of local people.
The pain, fatigue and lack of mobility caused by arthritis affects every aspect of a person’s life, making everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea, travelling to work or getting out of bed extremely difficult.
As well as the personal impact, the cost to NHS Scotland for hip fractures alone exceeds £73 million per year, and these conditions are the cause of one in five working days lost in the UK.
Attendees also discussed the charity’s Prevent, Transform, Cure manifesto, which calls for:
- Making arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions a public health priority
- Ensuring people have timely access to health and care services that enable them to improve their musculoskeletal health
- Protecting Scotland’s position as a global leader in science and sustain the benefits of the life-science sector to the economy
There was also the chance to learn about the number of people living with different forms of arthritis in each local authority and health board area, and speaking about this data
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “It’s clear how enormous the impact of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is on our local communities.
"These figures show just how important it is that local authorities and Health Boards take into account the large number of people living with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in their area when planning local services. For example, supporting people with arthritis to remain or become physically active is a proven way to prevent and manage the pain associated with musculoskeletal conditions.
"The work of the charity on a local level to help people with arthritis stay and return to work, and with young people with arthritis is vital in supporting them maintain their freedom and quality of life.
"I’m committed to making a difference. Together we can fight this painful condition that has such a huge impact on all aspects of people’s lives in Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire."
Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer of the charity, said: "I’m delighted that Rachael Hamilton MSP attended our event. It’s imperative that we have the support of as many MSPs as possible to stand up for the rights of people with arthritis.
"There needs to be a public health approach focusing on preventing arthritis, transforming services and finding a cure for the huge numbers of people in Scotland affected by this devastating condition. It’s vital we work together to make life better for everyone affected by arthritis."