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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 16:31 GMT
Arthritis sufferers 'let down' by NHS
lady with zimmer
Atrhritis accounts for one in five GP visits
Arthritis sufferers are being badly let down by the NHS, a survey by a leading charity reveals.

The survey of 1,500 patients was, part of a nationwide "roadshow" organised by the charity Arthritis Care.

It found that one third of people with the condition felt they were not receiving satisfactory care.

"People with arthritis feel they are dramatically let down by the health service," said Arthritis Care chief executive, Richard Gutch.

Patients are being told to go away and live with it, he said, though this means constant pain which makes even getting out of bed difficult.

The charity says that people with arthritis make up the largest group of NHS users and account for one in five visits to GPs.

It has been devastating to listen to some of the stories of people being denied treatment

Duncan Innes, Arthritis Care
Though it affects around 8 million people in the UK, support and information about the disease and treatment options are not readily available, Mr Gutch claimed.

The Arthritis Care roadshow covered 43 cities across the UK, finishing in London, and was visited by more than 43,000 people.

Denied treatment

Roadshow co-ordinator, Duncan Innes said; "It has been devastating to listen to some of the stories of people being denied treatment, waiting months to see a specialist and having hip operations cancelled time after time."

"Arthritis is a very painful condition and people have just been expected to remain in constant pain."

The problems identified by the charity included poor access to o specialists, lengthy waiting times and "postcode rationing" of newer treatments.

Dissatisfaction with services was reported by patients of all ages, genders and with all types of symptoms.

Arthritis Care argues that with better care and information people can live more productive lives, while unmanaged, the condition causes dependence, unemployment and social exclusion.

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