BSR launch 'The People We Need' campaign

At the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) conference last week, the BSR launched their new campaign to grow the rheumatology workforce.  

They are urging all UK political parties to prioritise growing the rheumatology workforce by creating:

159 additional adult rheumatology consultant posts;

264 additional specialist nurse posts in adult rheumatology services;

12 additional paediatric rheumatology consultant posts; and

Removing barriers to developing extended scope roles for allied health professionals, pharmacists and specialist nurses to address capacity issues across specialist services.

We fully support ‘The People We Need’ campaign focused on growing the rheumatology workforce. The manifesto explains that paediatric rheumatology is often overlooked due to arthritis being incorrectly assumed to only affect older people. They are calling for an additional 12 paediatric rheumatology consultant posts to be created in order to meet NHS England's own minimum standards by 2030. 

In addition to the creation of these 12 new posts, we hope that accessibility of these rheumatologists will also be addressed and recognised to help those for whom their “local” rheumatology team is difficult to access geographically. We know that there are locations within the UK where families have to travel long distances by road, rail and sometimes sea and air just to get to their regular rheumatology appointment. 

We recognise and support the need for additional posts in adult rheumatology in order to support those reaching adulthood who have JIA and adults with JIA who may not currently be receiving optimal care due to shortages in the rheumatology workforce. 

The BSR have created a template to enable you to find and write to your local MP to support the plan. We would encourage everyone to personalise the template to make it specific to your situation and your/your child's Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). 

We know that one of the biggest issues in accessing timely and appropriate care in JIA isn’t always the workforce capacity issue but is due to a lack of awareness of childhood arthritis. 

So let's use this opportunity to raise awareness of JIA at a national level!

When writing to your MP, we would encourage you to add the following important facts into your letter:

Around 12,000 children and young people under the age of 16 are affected by Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). Awareness that children and young people can get arthritis remains low, leading to delays in diagnosis. 

These delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to long-term joint damage and permanent disability. There is also a risk of children and young people developing JIA-related uveitis – a condition affecting the eyes which affects around 1 in 5 children with JIA. Left undetected and untreated this can cause permanent loss of sight.

More information about knowing the signs and symptoms of JIA can be found at as part of Juvenile Arthritis Research’s #ThinkJIA campaign. 

It is only by improving awareness amongst parents/caregivers, communities and frontline healthcare professionals, that we will achieve earlier diagnosis and that all-important early treatment for those with JIA. And of course, we need appropriate levels of paediatric rheumatology healthcare professionals to be there for these children and young people when they are referred from primary care services.

You can read many stories of children, young people and adults with JIA at 

Many have experienced delays in diagnosis and treatment due to a lack of awareness. So please help us to #ThinkJIA and raise awareness that children and young people get arthritis too.” 

Thank you to the BSR for leading this work. Together, let’s ensure that our children and young people’s needs and priorities are also included in the pledge when we write to our MPs. 

Read more about The People We Need: Our plan to grow the rheumatology workforce.