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20 September 2023

This summer we held our first Northern Ireland 'Professionals Versus Arthritis' event since 2019 with the theme of ‘Innovation against the Odds’.

The event was recognising first and foremost the extreme challenges within the health system in Northern Ireland, but with a clear need to stand beside and boost this professional community.

The overall aim was to engage and inspire healthcare professionals and decision makers, and:

  • recognise innovation and service improvement in the face of extraordinary pressures within the health service;
  • facilitate cross-discipline learning and strengthen professional community within musculoskeletal healthcare;
  • collectively raise profile of issues across musculoskeletal healthcare provision.

A full programme was delivered by a range of speakers across musculoskeletal (MSK) care, alongside the wide range of invited healthcare professionals and decision makers in attendance. We are working across relevant teams on outcomes from the event, and the many formal and informal opportunities that can ultimately help our politicians, health system and healthcare professionals to support people with musculoskeletal conditions.

Some of the feedback from the event included:

“It really was brilliant and great to hear all the positive work that is going on.”

“It was amazing and I feel privileged to be a part of it.”

“Congratulations on a great event, was very interesting particularly the patient voice and GP pieces.”

“It was a real forum for our exhausted - but enthusiastic - rheumatology / medical teams to showcase amazing resilience and enthusiasm in the face of political and post-pandemic drift. It was good to see so many presentations demonstrating how Versus Arthritis fits with and adds value to their work.”

Next steps

We are working as a Northern Ireland team and more widely across the organisation to leverage influence in our policy and engagement work on the back of this – i.e. reinforcing the huge issues identified and the examples of solutions you identified and acted upon as clinical teams. Also, we are working to capture what was delivered on the night as ‘Stories of Change’ in health service improvement as active local examples of health and social care professional led change.

For more information, contact Anna Lyons.