The BCA is a member of ARMA – Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance. Members of the ARMA network joined together to urge the government to extend it’s support for charities to patient organisations.
17 April 2020
Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
Cc: Baroness Barran MBE, Minister for Civil Society, DCMS
ARMA is an umbrella body bringing together patient organisations and professional bodies representing the breadth of arthritis and musculoskeletal (MSK) health.
Every Monday we capture and collate frontline experience and learning from patients and healthcare professionals relating to COVID-19 and MSK care, which we then feed into NHS England decision-making via a joint leadership group working on musculoskeletal health during the crisis.
We welcome the government’s announcement of support for charities and urge you to ensure this reaches patient organisations across the breadth of healthcare, (not just the organisations quoted by Government in the charity funding announcement last week). Patient organisations are doing so much to alleviate pressure on the NHS and get millions of those with arthritis and MSK conditions through the Coronavirus pandemic with the right support and information.
We particularly draw your attention to the fact that the arthritis and MSK patient organisations are:
• Ensuring the best up-to-date information is reaching patients and those who support them. This ensures that patients on immunosuppressant medication do not stop taking it, causing flares of their condition and a higher risk of infection.
• Handling hugely inflated call volumes, emails & online queries through social media channels and online forums. Many of these calls would previously have been handled by NHS services, but the staff providing this support have been redeployed to wards to treat covid-19 patients.
• Rapidly developing new services specifically to support their patient groups, many of whom are in the high risk and very vulnerable groups. This includes innovative ways to handle the increased call volumes, new online support services for those isolating/shielding and sources of support for those whose treatment has been delayed or who cannot access their usual services.
• Like other charities, experiencing steep drops in income, and facing tough decisions to furlough staff even though demand in service provision has risen exponentially and, in some cases, furloughing means cutting vital support services.
The funding you have announced, provided it reaches these important charities, will mean they can continue to take pressure off the NHS. We would welcome confirmation that this will be the case.
Once again, we welcome the Government’s hugely important announcement regarding financial support for charities and urge you to ensure that arthritis and musculoskeletal patient organisations supporting the NHS are included to ensure they can continue to play their part in defeating Coronavirus in the UK.
Chief Executive, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA)