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‘I worry about where the NHS is going’ - Former rheumatology lead speaks on future of healthcare at group’s birthday event

PUBLISHED: 08:44 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:54 05 April 2018

L-R Viv Hawes and Jane Scarfe, Treasurer and Chair THE RiNG, Rheumatoid in Norfolk Group, Ailsa Bosworth MBE, Chief Executive NRAS and Professor David Scott. Photo: Robert Scarfe

L-R Viv Hawes and Jane Scarfe, Treasurer and Chair THE RiNG, Rheumatoid in Norfolk Group, Ailsa Bosworth MBE, Chief Executive NRAS and Professor David Scott. Photo: Robert Scarfe

Robert Scarfe

The future for arthritis care and the NHS as a whole were chewed over along with the birthday cake when the Rheumatoid in Norfolk Group (RiNG) celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Ailsa Bosworth MBE, Chief Executive NRAS, gives a talk to the RiNG. Photo: Robert ScarfeAilsa Bosworth MBE, Chief Executive NRAS, gives a talk to the RiNG. Photo: Robert Scarfe

Ailsa Bosworth MBE, chief executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, spoke at the event attended by 70 people held at Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett, near Norwich on Wednesday.

Her theme was ‘Changing Minds, Changing Lives’.

She said: “Our vision is for NRAS to be there at the start of every RA patient’s journey because we know we make a difference to people’s lives.”

Among other things the charity provides a website, a Helpline, a wide range of literature and telephone support volunteers.

But NHS funding for a full clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of a proposed package of care, advice and support for newly diagnosed patients is currently not available.

Ms Bosworth said that pilot schemes indicate it would save a great deal of money by helping patients manage their disease better.

Professor David Scott, who led the rheumatology team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for many years, also spoke at the event.

He said hard-pressed health bosses only notice arthritis when the effective but expensive biologic drugs are costing them too much money, so they want to substitute the new cheaper biosimilars. But he also has wider concerns.

He said: “I was born three days after the NHS but I hope I’m in better shape approaching 70. I worry about where the NHS is going.

“There’s not enough money and health inflation is 8pc a year.

“We need a Royal Commission to take healthcare out of politics. It’s no good just sticking a penny on income tax.”

He thinks many European countries and places like Australia and Japan now have better healthcare than we do and we should look at their systems.

The RiNG puts its decade-long success down to a combination of providing information, support, friendship and fun.

The group hosts a wide range of talks at its meetings on the first Wednesday of each month at Hethersett Village Hall – some medical and some of general interest.

“But tea, home-made cake and making friends are just as important,” said vice-chair Viv Hawes.

Other activities include theatre trips, organised by Jean Nightingale.

“We love musicals for the feel-good factor,” she said.

Programme details are available at www.thering.org.uk or the answering service number is 0800 072 9597.

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