Be an Arthritis Champion

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Why arthritis is important

There are nearly one million people in Ireland living with arthritis. The condition can affect people of any age – 175,000 people with arthritis are under the age of 55, while 1,200 children are living with juvenile arthritis.

Arthritis and other rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions account for one in three GP visits. It is the single biggest cause of disability in Ireland.

At present, no cure exists for any form of arthritis.

Over the coming decades, the number of people with arthritis is going to grow in Ireland. While, thankfully, people are living longer, the number of older people living with multiple conditions is going to increase dramatically. Over the next 20 years, arthritis will see the greatest rise in prevalence in the population. This represents a significant societal and personal challenge.


Current situation – waiting lists

Month No. on rheumatology waiting list No. waiting 12+ months % of people waiting 12+ months
December 2019 17,837 6,814 38%
January 2016 11,974 1,577 13%

Over the course of the past four years, the number of people waiting to see a rheumatologist has increased by 50% to 17,837. Two in every five of these are waiting longer than 12 months to be seen.


Month No. of children on paediatric rheumatology waiting list Number waiting 12+ months % of children waiting 12+ months
December 2019 1,134 732 65%
January 2016 419 103 25%

The number of children waiting to see a paediatric rheumatologist has increased by 170% since January 2016. There are now 1,134 children waiting to be seen; two-thirds of whom are waiting longer than 12 months.

The longer that someone is on a waiting list, the greater the potential for pain and irreversible damage to their joints.

Early diagnosis and access to treatment is essential to successful long-term outcomes for people living with arthritis.

However, there is insufficient capacity in the system, with the result that fewer new patients are being seen and the waiting lists are getting longer and longer.


What we are asking

Implement the Model of Care for Rheumatology

  • Invest in the appointment of additional staff
  • Reduce waiting lists for all rheumatology referrals to less than 3 months within 2 years
  • Ensure engagement with rheumatology services as part of the full national roll out of primary care teams and appropriate clinical infrastructure


How many staff are required? 

Post (WTEs) Current staffing Best practice Recruitment need
Consultant rheumatologists 35.3 74.5 39.2
Clinical nurse specialists 16.4 45 28.6
Clinical specialist occupational therapists 0.9 17.8 16.9
Occupational therapists 9.3 54.2 45.2
Physiotherapists 26 45 19


Investing in the Model of Care for Rheumatology will help preserve people’s work status, maintain their quality of life and prevent joint damage and disability.


Candidates: show your support

Show your support for people living with arthritis today and become an #ArthritisChampion by taking a selfie with the "I'm an #ArthritisChampion" which you can download here.

Arthritis Champion sign

Candidates Who Have Pledged Support

The following candidates have pledged their support to be an #ArthritisChampion in the general election 2020 (they are listed by surname in alphabetical order):

  • Carly Bailey (Social Democrats, Dublin South West)
  • John Brassil (Fianna Fáil, Kerry)
  • Shay Brennan (Fianna Fáil, Dublin Rathdown)
  • Michael Carrigy (Fine Gael, Longford-Westmeath)
  • Jim Codd (Aontú, Wexford)
  • Catherine Connolly (Ind, Galway West)
  • Anna Daly (Aontú, Cork South Central)
  • Pa Daly (Sinn Féin, Kerry)
  • Audrey Fergus (People before Profit, Louth)
  • Colette Finn (Green Party, Cork North West)
  • Pauline Flanagan (Fianna Fáil, Laois-Offaly)
  • Norma Foley (Fianna Fáil, Kerry)
  • Brendan Griffin (Fine Gael, Kerry)
  • Pippa Hackett (Green Party, Laois-Offaly)
  • Seán Haughey (Fianna Fáil, Dublin Rathdown)
  • Danny Healy-Rae (Independent, Kerry)
  • Michael Healy-Rae (Independent, Kerry)
  • Mike Kennelly (Fine Gael, Kerry)
  • Mary Linehan-Foley (Independent, Cork East)
  • Catherine Martin (Green Party, Dublin Rathdown)
  • Steven Matthews (Green Party, Wicklow)
  • Norma Moriarty (Fianna Fáil, Kerry)
  • Dave Quinn (Social Democrats, Dun Laoghaire)
  • Shane Ross (Independent, Dublin Rathdown)
  • Bríd Smith (People before Profit, Dublin South-Central)
  • Deirdre Wadding (People before Profit, Wexford)
  • Barry Ward (Fine Gael, Dun Laoghaire)
  • Michael White (Green Party, Donegal)


Voters: how you can help

When you meet a candidate in the general election, ask them to support people living with arthritis by calling for the implementation of the Model of Care for Rheumatology. Tell them about your experience and the challenges you face. Please share your experiences on social media, using the hashtags #ArthritisChampion and #GE2020, and tag Arthritis Ireland in your posts:

Download our general election campaign brochure here.


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