Arthritis patients in West Suffolk have a shorter wait for care

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Latest health news from the Haverhill Echo,, @haverhill on Twitter

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