Arthiritis supportThe British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) has launched a position statement on commissioning services for patients with Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Disorders (RMDs), setting out a raft of measures to ensure the delivery of high-quality and cost-effective care.

The recommendations are far-reaching and cover areas as diverse as patient and clinician involvement in commissioning, data collection, contracting processes, and funding and are addressed at the national and local bodies that can make a real difference in these areas. The key measures include:
  • Improving the data that underpin commissioning decisions, by addressing the vast gaps in outpatient and community activity data for RMDs and promoting standardised coding for these conditions across the care pathway
  • Putting patients at the heart of commissioning by investing in programmes to empower patient leaders at local and national level
  • Strengthening requirements for clinician input into local commissioning 
  • Developing measurements and financial flows that properly reflect the needs of chronic complex care 
  • Reinforcing contracting requirements to ensure that plans for education, training and research are not overlooked in bids for new services
  • Promoting a coordinated network approach to providing care across traditional healthcare boundaries 
  • Reviewing the incentives and levers to providers to improve and reduce variations in care.
Commenting on the launch of the position statement, BSR Chief Executive Laura Guest, said: “Best practice in commissioning is about making the most effective use of resources to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care possible, however, we feel that resources are not being fully utilised in the commissioning of rheumatology services. Whether it’s resources in the form of expert patients informing the design of responsive services, professionals ensuring that services are clinically effective, or the vast untapped resources of the data on rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders, we feel that there is much more that can be achieved. We believe that if the measures laid out in this statement are implemented, this would go a long way to ensuring that our patients experience the best health outcomes possible within the resources available. We therefore urge local and national commissioners to help take these forward.”