Over 90% of NHS Staff Say that Rheumatology Services in Scotland are Understaffed

A recent report from the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) and the Scottish Society for Rheumatology (SSR) called The State of Play: Scottish Rheumatology has found that the vast majority of Scottish healthcare professionals working in rheumatology units believe that their services are understaffed. The report aims to highlight any issues that are preventing patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders (RMDs) getting the treatment they need and makes a number of recommendations to ensure that all patients with such disorders can receive timely and effective treatment on the Scottish health service.

A broad spectrum of people working in rheumatology, including consultants, trainees and nurses, were surveyed with a number of specific targeted questions about the state of rheumatology care in Scotland’s health service. Startlingly, 92% said that their services were not sufficiently staffed. Understaffing was said to be present across a wide range of roles, including nurses, trainees, and allied health professionals.

The report details a number of other interesting findings about rheumatology care in Scotland. 89% of the healthcare professionals who responded to the survey, for example, said that rheumatology training needed to be spread more widely amongst other health and care professionals. Meanwhile, only 31% said that people with rare rheumatic conditions were able to get adequate treatment in their areas. Most also indicated that there was insufficient attention to research and use of technology in the services on offer – while relatively few thought that accurate and detailed data were being gathered about patient activity, diagnoses, and outcomes.

Essentially, the report highlights a number of areas in which rheumatology services in Scotland appear (to the people running the services themselves) to be falling short. The report is a significant first step in highlighting those shortcomings. You can read the report to see the full list of recommendations it makes when it comes to rectifying these problems, which include more widespread rheumatology training throughout general medical and GP training and ring-fenced funding for specialist rheumatology nurses.

Source: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy article dated 07.03.2016

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