GPs to receive NICE guidance on rheumatoid arthritis

GPs are to be given NICE guidance to help make an early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), following concerns that patients are not receiving a prompt diagnosis.

A report by the Kings Fund has suggested that RA patients often have to make a number of trips to their GP before they receive a referral to a specialist.

However, the report recognises that ‘the nature of the symptoms and range of inflammatory conditions mean it is often difficult for GPs to identify RA, particularly as the number of patients with RA in one practice may be small’.

NICE will release guidance on the management and treatment of RA in adults next month.

Speaking at the launch of the Kings Fund report in central London on Thursday, Ros Meek, director of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance Standards of Care, said that the use of guidelines to improve RA care was ‘paramount’.

‘The earlier RA is diagnosed the less joint replacements and flare ups a patient will suffer,’ she said.

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