"The results of this study show that clinics run by rheumatology clinical nurse specialists can manage many people with rheumatoid arthritis without any reduction in the quality of care and treatment," said Dr Ndosi.
In addition to better improvements in the disease activity, nurse-led clinics had overall lower healthcare costs, representing a cost-effective service. The economic evaluation took into account healthcare resource use, including consultation costs, investigations, hospital admissions and treatments including over-the-counter medications.
Interestingly, throughout the 12-month follow-up period, the proportion of patients receiving expensive biologic drug treatment remained more or less constant in the nurse-led clinics, while that of rheumatologist-led clinics doubled.
"The development of the role of clinical nurse specialist in rheumatology has resulted in great improvements in rheumatology service, providing a high quality, accessible and person-centred care to people with rheumatoid arthritis," said Dr Hill.
"The results of this research are encouraging, demonstrating that this model of care is effective, safe, and associated with more patient satisfaction. At a time when deficiencies have come to light in some areas of the NHS, it's good to know that in rheumatology there are high levels of satisfaction with the care we provide."
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK commented: "Rheumatoid arthritis is, despite modern treatment, a chronic condition requiring long-term expert professional care to help patients manage their symptoms and control disease. This care necessarily involves many different healthcare professionals.
"Why this study is so important is that
|Contact: Ben Jones|
University of Leeds