“Unacceptable delays” for arthritis treatment

People are facing “unacceptably long” delays to receive treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, according to a survey of eight European countries.

 By , Medical Correspondent

6:30AM BST 04 Aug 2011 

It found patients in England waited 21 weeks for treatment, well in excess of the three month “therapeutic window” in which it is best to treat to maximise chances of a good outcome.

However, on average 12 weeks of the 21 week total delay was caused by patients themselves failing to recognise symptoms and not going to see a doctor.

The study, in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, noted: “In the UK, a lack of awareness of RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and its presenting symptoms explained much of the delay in seeking help.”

The nine-week wait in the UK from seeing a GP to receiving treatment, based on 50 patients from Birmingham, was shorter than in any other country in the study, which included Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden.


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