National Audit Office Report on RA

The National Audit Office has reviewed the National Health Service treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a progressive musculoskeletal disease which results in severe pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints, and can lead to reduced joint function and disability.

It is a lifelong condition which, in most cases, initially affects the joints of the hands and feet; although any joint or other part of the body may later become affected. It is estimated that there are approximately 580,000 adults in England with rheumatoid arthritis, with around 26,000 new diagnoses each year. It is estimated that rheumatoid arthritis costs the NHS around £560 million a year in healthcare costs, with the majority of this in the acute sector. There is an additional cost to the economy of sick leave and work-related disability of £1.8 billion a year.

There are opportunities to increase efficiency by addressing the delays in obtaining formal diagnosis and treatment for many people with rheumatoid arthritis. People who may have the disease are often not identified before irreversible damage has taken place. The reasons for delays include:

  • Low public awareness about rheumatoid arthritis and its symptoms
  • Delay in presentation to the NHS in primary care; and
  • Delays in the time taken to refer to and be seen by a specialist and to begin effective treatment.

Join our campaign to raise awareness of osteoporosis and improve the outcomes for patients. If you have any joint symptoms please seek the advice of your GP as early as possible. Early referral, diagnosis and treatment results in improved outcomes and disease prevention.

Arrange a Consultant appointment today

Private appointments: 01892 741 127 or email

NHS appointments via Choose and Book system