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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Devolution hope for arthritis aid
Arthritis affects thousands in Northern Ireland
A charity dedicated to supporting people with arthritis is hoping devolution will lead to better services for sufferers in Northern Ireland.

Kate Fleck of Arthritis Care was speaking as the charity prepared to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

The painful condition affects about 230,000 people in Northern Ireland, including 500 children and young people under the age of sixteen.

Nine million Britons, including 12,000 children, live with arthritis.

It is the country's biggest single cause of physical disability.

The message of this year's Arthritis Care Awareness Week is: "Much done; Much still to do".

Neil Betteridge, Arthritis Care's chief executive, said: "We cannot afford to slacken.

"We must keep campaigning for equal access to NHS care and treatment, keep championing the rights of people with arthritis and be vigilant in our efforts to ensure that rheumatology is not a Cinderella service in future, but one designed to cope with increasing demands."

Arthritis Care, established in 1947, is the UK's largest voluntary organisation committed to supporting people with arthritis.

Six months of Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be launched during Arthritis Care Awareness Week 21 April - 27 April.

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