Dr Antoni Chan, consultant rheumatologist at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust recently attended the second meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including ankylosing spondylitis (AS), to present how services across the country can ensure the best possible care is made available for patients with this condition.
Dr Chan is one of the country’s foremost axial SpA (AS) experts, which is a painful, progressive form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine but can also affect other joints, tendons and ligaments. The average age of onset is just 24 and there is a typical 8.5 year delay to diagnosis, by which point irreversible damage to the spine may have occurred. The condition affects around 220,000 people in the UK, equivalent to 1 in 200 members of the adult population. That’s twice as many as those with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
At the meeting, Dr Chan provided a fascinating insight into how he has supported the ongoing work at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and of the South Coast Axial Spondylorthritis Network (SCAN), which helps to ensure that local patients receive high-quality care, aligned to the standards set out in recent NICE guidance. Encouraging best practice is particularly important considering that the meeting also featured the presentation of findings from an inquiry launched by the group to better understand the availability and quality of axial SpA (AS) services across the country.
The cross-party group was established, with support from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS), to help raise awareness of axial SpA (AS) and work towards achieving improved outcomes for all those affected by the condition.
As a next step the APPG will be formally publishing its findings and will be working with Parliamentarians and commissioners across the country to ensure the best possible care is made available for those who need it.
26 July 2019