Arthritis Ireland has today (23 June 2020) launched a nationwide survey asking people with arthritis to share their experiences of Covid-19. The survey is available online and takes 10-15 mins to complete.

Nearly one million people are living with arthritis in Ireland; many of whom have been severely impacted by the pandemic; for example, due to being immunosuppressed or aged over 70.

The survey includes questions on how the pandemic affected people’s physical and mental health, their access to health services, where they sourced information about the coronavirus, and how their employment and personal finances have been impacted.

Brian Lynch, head of communications and advocacy, said: “This research will give us direct insights into how Covid-19 has impacted people living with arthritis. This is a diverse population, but some were extremely medically vulnerable, many were required to cocoon, people had appointments postponed or cancelled. Arthritis is a chronic condition for which there is yet no cure; people’s symptoms, their pain and fatigue didn’t disappear during the pandemic.”

Lynch said that when they analyse the information, it will help the patient organisation advocate for better services and access to healthcare.

“Arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability in Ireland, resulting in significant loss of physical health and function. Inflammatory forms of arthritis are systemic diseases which can affect your whole body. It’s vital that our rheumatology service be resourced and structured to best meet the needs of new and existing patients,” he said.

At the end of May there were 18,818 people waiting for a rheumatology appointment; 44% of whom were waiting longer than 12 months. There were 68,463 waiting for an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant; 38% of whom were waiting longer than 12 months.

The survey can be accessed online here.