South of Scotland MSP and Shadow Health Spokesperson, Colin Smyth attended the first Holyrood reception to be held by the newly merged charity, Arthritis Research UK incorporating Arthritis Care Scotland on 5th December, where he said ‘more needs to be done, to support people with arthritis’.

Arthritis is among the biggest causes of disability and pain across Scotland, with nearly 700,000 people living with osteoarthritis, around 37,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis and almost one million people with back pain.

The pain, fatigue and lack of mobility caused by arthritis affects every aspect of a person’s life, making everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea, travelling to work or getting out of bed extremely difficult.

As well as the personal impact, the cost to NHS Scotland for hip fractures alone exceeds £73 million per year, and these conditions are the cause of one in five working days lost in the UK.

Attendees also discussed the charity’s Prevent, Transform, Cure manifesto, which calls for:

–       Making arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions a public health priority

–       Ensuring people have timely access to health and care services that enable them to  improve their musculoskeletal health

–       Protecting Scotland’s position as a global leader in science and sustain the benefits of the life-science sector to the economy 

There was also the chance to learn about the number of people living with different forms of arthritis in Dumfries and Galloway. Speaking about this data, Colin Smyth MSP said:

“It’s clear how enormous the impact of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is on our local communities. In Dumfries and Galloway 8,463 people aged over 45 are living with osteoarthritis of the hip and 13,840 people aged over 45 with osteoarthritis of the knee. This is significantly above the national average and these figures are growing year on year”

“These figures show just how important it is that the council, Health Board and the new Health and Social Care Partnership in Dumfries and Galloway to take into account the large and growing number of people living with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in their area when planning local services. For example, supporting people with arthritis to remain or become physically active is a proven way to prevent and manage the pain associated with musculoskeletal conditions.”

“The work of the charity on a local level to help people with arthritis stay and return to work, and with young people with arthritis is vital in supporting them maintain their freedom and quality of life.”

“We need the Scottish Government to be looking into arthritis more seriously and commit funding to ensure preventative measures are in place to stop people developing arthritis and health and social care packages can be put in place to help people with arthritis live as easily and pain free as possible. “

“I’m committed to making a difference. Together we can fight this painful condition that has such a huge impact on all aspects of people’s lives in Dumfries and Galloway.”

Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer of the charity, said:

“I’m delighted that Colin Smyth MSP attended our event to support our work, not only as a local MSP but in her role on the Health and Sport Committee and as his party Spokesperson on Public Health and Social Care. It’s imperative that we have the support of as many MSPs as possible to stand up for the rights of people with arthritis.

“There needs to be a public health approach focusing on preventing arthritis, transforming services and finding a cure for the huge numbers of people in Scotland affected by this devastating condition. It’s vital we work together to make life better for everyone affected by arthritis.”

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