The Department has published a good practice commissioning pathway for inflammatory arthritis which supports clinicians in identifying cases of rheumatoid arthritis and ensuring that they are set on the right pathway of care. This describes key symptoms, for example where patients should be referred for urgent treatment.
General practitioners can also use the Map of Medicine to determine the best possible treatment options for their patients, including information on the various patterns of onset, diagnostic tests and medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis1.
The Department has not made any specific assessment of access to or quality of care services for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
It is the responsibility of primary care trusts as commissioners of healthcare services to ensure that their populations have access to the services that they require.
The Department has published a good practice commissioning pathway for inflammatory arthritis. All 18 weeks commissioning pathways provide information to illustrate what services should be commissioned and provided in different levels of care. The guidance recommends that information is given to patients to help them understand and self-manage their condition at different stages of the treatment pathway.
“Your health, your way—a guide to long term conditions and self care” provides people living with long-term conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, with information about the choices that should be available to them locally to enable them to self care in partnership with health and social care professionals.
NHS Choices also provides a wealth of information to assist patients in recognising the symptoms of a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. The national health service guide to rheumatoid arthritis features information on the warning signs and symptoms of the condition and streaming of a rheumatologist outlining symptoms, treatment and aspects of living with the rheumatoid arthritis.
1 The Map of Medicine is a map of best available research evidence and a best evidence clinical guideline. It displays this knowledge in an easy-to-use pathways format, reflecting the patient journey and provides a framework for creating local pathways.
The central focus of Your health, your way—a guide to long term conditions and self care is to promote discussion between health and social care professionals and individuals with long term conditions about what options there are for self care and what support and information is available to help improve the way they manage their own health and well-being.
The Department is also developing the Information Prescriptions programme which aims to empower people with long-term conditions and their carers by giving them information to help them better manage their condition and care.
Information Prescriptions can be created through NHS Choices for a number of long-term conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals can access this information directly, or alternatively, health professionals may provide the information during a consultation. Local versions of Information Prescriptions are being developed across the country and we are encouraging primary care trusts and general practitioner practices to develop directories of information and processes for providing personalised information to patients and their carers.