A study entitled the Global Burden of Disease provides some interesting insights for the nation of England and NHS England as an organisation, according to the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (AMA).
And data published in The Lancet this week further underlines this critical issue.
The study highlights what has been described as “a huge opportunity for preventive public health”.
But it also paints a picture of musculoskeletal disorders remaining a serious problem, suggesting that this issue is under-prioritised when the enormous and growing burden of the problem is taken into consideration.
The AMA has particularly highlighted the problems illustrated by the Global Burden of Disease, and called for significant action within the United Kingdom.
Produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study is the largest and most comprehensive effort to date to measure epidemiological levels and trends worldwide.
The survey highlights that developed economies and nations such as the UK face a growing burden of disability, with larger numbers of residents living longer with increasingly long-term conditions.
Among the conditions of this nature identified by the study, musculoskeletal disorders are by far the single largest cause.
If this global survey wasn’t strong enough evidence in itself, then new data applied specifically to England that has been published in The Lancet journal brings the subject into sharper focus.
The data suggests that health services in England must do more to tackle conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders.
It is particularly suggested that integrated models of care and a sharply more preventative approach would be particularly effective.
Musculoskeletal disorders affect as many as ten million people across the United Kingdom, and have a massive impact on the NHS budget.
It is suggested by The Lancet study that muscular disorders are the fourth highest subject of spending in the NHS, accounting for £5 billion annually.
Additionally, muscular disorders impose a significant workload on staff within the NHS, yet are not being dealt with efficiently.
The Lancet study suggests that 40 per cent of the current NHS burden related to muscular disorders can be attributed to potentially preventable risk factors.
Findings from the study indicate that treatment for musculoskeletal diseases within the UK tends to be based on “incomplete data at subnational level, and the level of inequality for many disorders is likely to be underestimated.”
And the study also suggests that there is insufficient strategic provision for muscular disorders within the NHS, despite the evidence that such complaints are increasing.
Prof Anthony Woolf, Chair of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) and co-author of the study, suggested that the evidence indicated that a change of tack and organisation related to the issue is essential.
“The new…evidence published in The Lancet paints a familiar and compelling picture which requires us to take stock of where resources need to be invested in order to successfully meet the challenges not just of tomorrow, but of today. This means a better understanding of the risk factors behind the growing burden of disability in this country, and a greater emphasis on tackling some of the major causes of this through a more joined-up and preventive approach. [Musculoskeletal] disorders in particular must not be an afterthought but must constitute a central focus for national and local strategies aimed at improving health and well-being across the board,” Woolf stated.
Dr. Liam O’Toole, chief executive of charity Arthritis Research UK, added: “Today’s study provides conclusive evidence that for too long, the needs of the millions of people in the UK living with neck, back pain and osteoarthritis have been ignored. This is an issue that will not go away.”