Nurses the key to caring for arthritis

Rheumatology nurses could be the answer to improving care for hundreds of thousands of Australians with inflammatory arthritis.

Around 1.7 million Australians suffer with chronic, inflammatory forms of arthritis, yet there is a severe shortage of the specialist nurses who are trained to help care for these patients.

The report Rheumatology nurses: Adding value to arthritis care looks at the evidence supporting the benefits of rheumatology nursing and assesses access to rheumatology nursing care in Australia. The report commissioned by Arthritis Australia, found that there was just one full-time rheumatology nurse for every 45,000 people living with painful and disabling conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, gout and juvenile arthritis.

“An increase in rheumatology nurses would mean quicker diagnoses, better psychosocial support for patients, improved quality of care, better patient outcomes and reduced health system costs,” Ms Cahill said. “Importantly, this research confirms that people who see a rheumatology nurse as part of their care are much more satisfied with all aspects of their care than those who do not.”

“Adding rheumatology nursing to the traditional care model which uses only a rheumatologist would mean quicker access to specialist care and an earlier start to treatment. Our report shows this would in turn mean an increase in the number of patients going into remission and a decrease in the average cost of care per patient,” said Ms Cahill.

“For these reasons, we call on the Federal, State and Territory governments to provide dedicated funding to train and employ more rheumatology nurses,” finished Ms Cahill.

Click here for the full media release.

Click here for the full report.

Reviewed and updated October 2017