Another step forward for paediatric rheumatology campaign in Wales
Wales is the only home nation without a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service. Current provision is made up of part-time and limited services. This means many children and young people are travelling significant distances which often exacerbates their painful symptoms, and can be very disruptive and upsetting for them.
Arthritis Care Wales and Arthritis Research UK, together with the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR), have been jointly campaigning for a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service to be set up in South Wales, and an expansion of the current service in North Wales.
The campaign has had a very busy year. We helped organise a successful awareness raising event in Cardiff, where over a third of Assembly Members (AMs) attended. Tehre was also a debate in Plenary at National Assembly for Wales where a Motion was passed calling for a new paediatric rheumatology service to be established. The Welsh Government also agreed that the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) should undertake a review of current services. We have kept the issue on the radar of AMs, and in March a number of them tabled questions at the National Assembly for Wales, further supporting calls for paediatric rheumatology services in Wales to be expanded.
The campaign received a further boost in April, with WHSSC including paediatric rheumatology in both their commissioning and work plans for the coming year. This is a significant positive step and means this issue will progress from the initial review stage, to future service options being investigated. This takes us one step closer to the possibility of the current partial service being enhanced.
Our Policy and Engagement Manager in Wales, Hywel Evans said: “The campaign has made real progress in raising awareness and understanding of the impact of childhood arthritis. Despite that, the campaign still has a long way to go and we have no intention of slowing down until we see services in place that children with arthritis in Wales deserve. Children and young people living with arthritis together with their families have been instrumental in the successes the campaign has had. Securing a debate about childhood arthritis in the National Assembly, and AMs passing a Motion supporting the campaign for a full service, was a huge achievement and it would not have been possible without families being at the forefront of the campaign. The coverage in the Assembly this month and WHSSC’s inclusion of the review of paediatric rheumatology in its plans offers real encouragement that the campaign is taking positive steps towards achieving its goals.”
We will continue to campaign on this issue until we see actual changes to paediatric rheumatology provision and children and young people living with arthritis across Wales have the services they need closer to home.
If you’d like to support this kind of campaign, you can join our campaigns network. We’ll email you about once a month and let you know what we’re up to and how you can get involved.