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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 00:46 GMT
Arthritis groups demand priority
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Arthritis causing swelling and damage to cartilage and bone
Greater priority should be given to the debilitating impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on thousands of people in Scotland, it has been claimed.

The calls were made by arthritis campaigners and politicians following the results of a survey of clinicians who specialise in the condition.

The healthcare workers said they felt the crippling condition was not being given a high enough priority.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 52,000 people in Scotland.

Cost factor

None of those who took part in the survey felt that services for the disease were a funding priority, while more than 80% said they felt cost was a factor in decision making.

The chief executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), Ailsa Bosworth, said: "It is disappointing to see that RA still gets little priority at a national level in spite of the severity of the condition and the impact on the lives of those affected and on the health service and the wider economy."

It is important that they are valued and have the resources they need to give the best they can
Helen Eadie
Dunfermline East MSP

"I hope that the Scottish Government will take note of the results in this report and give greater priority to this serious and disabling disease in future."

The survey's findings have been presented to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.

Dunfermline East MSP Helen Eadie has tabled questions for the Scottish Government on the spending provided for RA and the budgets for the most modern medicines.

"I cannot praise enough the work of the healthcare professionals who help patients with these debilitating conditions," she said.

"But it is important that they are valued and have the resources they need to give the best they can for patients."

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful and debilitating autoimmune disease.

It occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing swelling and damage to cartilage and bone.

A total of 48 specialist doctors, nurses and managers at 11 Scottish health boards took part in the online poll, which was commissioned by the Scottish Inflammatory Diseases and Rheumatology Industry Group.

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