Arthritis toll on working patients

Arthritis sufferers are being forced to take six times more sick days than their healthier colleagues, new estimates suggests.

One in seven arthritis sufferers are forced to give up work
One in seven arthritis sufferers are forced to give up work

The average rheumatoid arthritis patient in work takes 40 days off every year as a result of their symptoms - six times more than the average worker, the British Society for Rheumatology said.

Meanwhile one in seven patients are forced to give up work altogether a year after diagnosis, the Society said.

Three quarters of cases are diagnoses in people of working age.

The NHS estimates that the condition, which causes pain and swelling in the joints, affects 580,000 people across England and Wales.

The Society has launched its new Simple Tasks campaign to highlight the "significant effects" of rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Professor Simon Bowman, president of the British Society for Rheumatology, said: "The Simple Tasks campaign is to emphasise that these diseases are significant, that they do lead to major effects on real people's lives and they are common and important."

Meanwhile a new survey by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and 2020Health of 2,000 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers found that 89% are suffering from chronic fatigue as well as the better-known symptoms of pain and swelling.

Even though fatigue affects such a large proportion of the sufferers, only half said they had spoken about the issue with their specialist nurse or rheumatologist.

Ailsa Bosworth, chief executive of National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, said: "Chronic fatigue is clearly being overlooked. If we are to improve levels of public awareness and rates of early diagnosis we must develop better messaging about the symptom of chronic fatigue within awareness campaign materials.

"The survey also highlights concerns about the provision of support to help manage the emotional health aspects of fatigue, so it is clear that further resources urgently need to be put in place to help healthcare professionals deliver improved care."