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NHS in England is found to be too slow to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 15 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2882
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

    Many cases of rheumatoid arthritis are not being diagnosed or treated quickly enough to stop preventable damage to joints, warns a report published by the National Audit Office (NAO), which reviews NHS services in England.

    The NAO examined the efficiency and effectiveness of services for people with rheumatoid arthritis, as part of its role to scrutinise public spending on behalf of parliament. The report shows that the average time from onset of symptoms to treatment is nine months, despite the consensus that treatment of rheumatoid arthritis should start within three months of the onset of symptoms for it to be most effective. The time lag has not improved in the past five years.

    “These delays can increase the risk of damage to joints and increase the need for more costly treatments and surgical intervention,” warned Chris Groom, audit manager for the report.

    He estimated …

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