On Monday 25 February there was an adjournment debate on AS in the House of Commons.
Huw Irranca-Davies, MP for Ogmore, won the ballot to choose the subject for an adjournment debate (a short debate that takes place at the end of the day's business in the House of Commons). We are delighted that he chose to talk about ankylosing spondylitis.
Mr Irranca-Davies got 'personal' and talked movingly about his own expeience of AS and his long road to a diagnosis. He laid out a 'Manifesto for AS' including early diagnosis, clinical standards for treatment and raising awareness. He called for continuing support for research and for funding for Anti-TNF treatments, and the increased use of MRI instead of X-rays for diagnosis. You can read his press release here.
The Minister for Care and Support, Norman Lamb MP, responded by saying that the Government 'fully recognise the importance of early diagnosis, of differentiating ankylosing spondylitis from other causes of back pain and of effective drug treatment.' He acknowledged the importance of accessible information and support for people with AS and recognised that there is still too much variation in the provision of services. He welcomed NASS's GP awareness campaign and agreed with the imporance of raising awareness of AS amongst GPs. Most significantly he agreed to a meeting with Huw Irranca-Davies MP, NASS and Arthritis Research UK so we will have a further opportunity to discuss AS and press him further on issues such as a Clinical Guideline and Quality Standard for AS. Our thanks go to Huw Irranca-Davies MP for raising the subject of AS in the House of Commons and for requesting a meeting with the Minister.
You can watch the debate again by going to ParliamentLive TV archive: Huw starts to speak at 22:26:35
You can read a full transcript of the debate here.
On April 1 Huw, who turns 50 this year, will begin a 50 mile walk, the length of the entire boundary of his constituency, to raise awareness of AS and funds for NASS. If you would like to sponsor Huw you can do so via his Just Giving page.