Arthritis centre wins £2m grant for new treatments
A RESEARCH centre trying to improve treatment for people with arthritis has had its future secured by a grant of £2.2 million.
The cash, from the Arthritis Research UK charity, will help the Keele University-based project continue for another five years.
The charity confirmed the move after reviewing the centre's first five years which have seen it attract several million pounds of additional income from other funding bodies including the NHS.
The unit has carried out work on large numbers of patients using GP surgeries.
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Now it aims to produce research which will underpin a shift in the way musculoskeletal conditions are managed and reduce the existing wide variations in care and treatment.
Professor Elaine Hay, the centre director, said: "The traditional way in which treatment decisions are guided by the doctor making a specific diagnosis hasn't helped identify those people who could be supported to self-manage their conditions, and those who need more treatment.
"There is a wide variation in care, with some patients offered unnecessary treatments, while others are denied access to effective treatments. It means that patients don't always get the care they need at the right time."
The centre will concentrate its efforts on matching patients to the most appropriate treatments, making sure those who self-manage their condition get more support, and those who need more input from their medical team, get it.
Professor Alan Ailman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said: "It is vital that we look at how we can improve the way that this care is delivered to patients and to make it more efficient and effective.
"Our centre at Keele is best-placed to make a major contribution to this process."
One of the centre's major achievements in recent years has been the development of a new screening tool which targets specific physiotherapy treatment for low back pain.
The tool has since been widely taken up by GP surgeries across the UK.
Arthritis sufferer Deborah Salt has welcomed the investment.
The 50-year-old, of Pear Place, Berryhill, has previously taken part in self-management courses which help make her rheumatoid arthritis more bearable. Mrs Salt, whose husband Brian also suffers with osteoarthritis, said: "Everybody who suffers with arthritis is different and experiences different symptoms.
"But despite how they suffer, everybody needs support in helping them to cope and to improve their way of thinking.
"It is wonderful that this money is being used to help people like us. It will be a huge benefit to a lot of people who have suffered for so many years."
Disabled David Williams, of Theodore Road, Bucknall, also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. He added: "I am on a lot of medication and have regular assessments by my GP.
"I am very happy with the treatment I receive but I know a lot of people are suffering in silence."