Patients with arthritis are receiving faster access to specialist treatment at West
Suffolk Hospital, new figures have revealed.
The statistics, collected from 34 trusts across England and Scotland, showed West
Suffolk patients wait an average of 20.5 days between seeing their GP and their first
hospital appointment – significantly shorter than the national figure of 33.
The delay between a patient noticing the symptoms of arthritis and arranging a GP
appointment is also shorter than the national average, at 22 days compared with 40.
Finally, the gap between the GP diagnosing the patient and referring them to the
hospital is 22 days in west Suffolk, compared with 49 days nationally.
David O’Reilly, consultant rheumatologist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust,
said: “We are delighted with the results of this national survey, which show that
patients who live in West Suffolk and have rheumatoid arthritis are getting fast
access to treatment. As well as patients going to their GP earlier than elsewhere.
GPs are recognising patients who may have early arthritis quickly, and are referring
them to hospital sooner.
“This is incredibly important as getting the right type of specialist help at an early
stage can dramatically reduce the chances of suffering long term damage or
disability, in turn helping the patient get back to a normal life.
“These figures are a testament to the hard work of our team and the support we have
received from colleagues in the wider NHS. We will continue to work closely with
local GPs to find further ways to reduce the time between the patient noticing their
symptoms and their first visit to our clinic so that we can make sure everyone has
access to the care they need as quickly as possible.”
GPs will refer patients to the hospital who have developed a “3-S” sign over the past
year. They are:
• Stiffness – early morning joint stiffness lasting more than 30 minutes
• Swelling – persistent swelling of several joints, especially hand joints
• Squeeze test – pain on squeezing the hands
For more information about the early symptoms of arthritis, visit www.nras.org.uk