On 18 November 2014 NASS was delighted to attend the Houses of Parliament in a reception hosted by Huw Irranca Davies MP to launch the next steps in our AS it is campaign.The reception was also an opportunity to thank our top supporters for their fundraising and volunteering throughout the previous 12 months.
Members of Parliament, people with AS and health care professionals joined NASS to call on NHS England to widely recognise access to physiotherapy as a treatment for AS and to support patients with AS to be more physically active. NASS also called for more to be done by NHS England to recognise the delay in AS diagnosis and put more resources into education for healthcare professionals.
We were especially grateful to Mr Irranca-Davies and NASS member Paul Curry who spoke about their own experiences with delay in diagnosis and also how physiotherapy has helped them. Paul also spoke about his experiences at NASS Sunderland and the vital role that the branch played not just in terms of treatment but also being able to be with people who understood him and what it is like to live with ankylosing spondylitis. Raj Mahapatra, NASS Chairman, talked about NASS and the work we are doing.
The campaign is supported by a number of people with AS and health professionals on social media, who are backing these calls using the hashtag #AS_It_Is.
NASS has already taken steps to improve care in each of these areas, including:
• Educating healthcare professionals about AS to reduce delays in diagnosis;
• Supporting self-management of AS through its 90 physiotherapy branches; and,
• Providing information and advice for patients to support them to stay active and remain in work wherever possible.
However, Government support is needed to enable overall standards of care to be driven up across the country.