Sunak issued urgent warning over millions with arthritis

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned that millions of arthritis patients continue to suffer worsening pain this winter as people are unable to heat their homes or access healthcare. Nearly everyone with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions say the cold makes their condition worse, but many are worried to turn their heating on because of out-of-control bills, a massive survey of thousands has shown. With these issues, on top of the already enormous NHS backlog, many are finding the situation intolerable.

A survey by the charity Versus Arthritis found that nine in ten are worried about heating their homes this winter, while nearly a third are already skipping meals and eating less to make ends meet.

Arthritis is a debilitating condition where one or more of your joints become inflamed that can be exacerbated with cold weather, making it important for sufferers to keep their homes warm.

According to the charity on top of the pressure to keep the home cold, people aren’t receiving the care they need. Over half (51 percent) even say they aren’t receiving support at all. Thousands are also still waiting for vital surgeries such as hip replacements.

Sue Patey, a 60-year-old from Berkshire with osteoarthritis said: “I can’t move in the cold, it cripples me. My joints hurt more, they’re stiffer, and I don’t have the energy to do anything . But this year I will be very restricted in how much I use the heating for my arthritis.”

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Ms Patey was diagnosed with arthritis in her mid-30s and took early retirement from her job as a special needs teacher because the pain was preventing her from working. She now spends a lot of her time at home.

She added:I’m usually by myself in the house during the day – which is when it gets very cold – but this year I’m only putting the heating on in the morning to warm up the bedroom when I have a shower, then I switch it off for the rest of the day. I used to have it on for longer, but I just can’t do that anymore.

“I’ve got heating pads which really benefit me but the cost of running those is too expensive – even just one night a week has an impact on the bills.

“I can keep warm to a certain extent if I wrap my neck and shoulders up and wear extra layers, but I’m still sitting there shivering sometimes, thinking about putting the heating on. A year ago I would never have been thinking like this .”

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The charity is calling on the Government to “go further” to help people with arthritis during the cost-of-living crisis.

It is asking for the government to provide “increased support” for people who need heating.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Versus Arthritis said: “There are almost 800,000 people awaiting trauma and orthopedic treatment in England, many with extreme pain while waiting for joint replacement surgery.

“Some feel they have no choice but to pay for private healthcare to end their agony, yet many are unable to afford that choice, further increasing health inequalities.

“Some feel they have no choice but to pay for private healthcare to end their agony, yet many are unable to afford that choice, further increasing health inequalities.

“The government must go further than the measures set out in the Autumn Statement to protect people with arthritis from the cost-of-living crisis, by providing increased support to households who require additional heating to maintain their health.

“This must include expanding the eligibility for the Warm Homes Discount scheme in the upcoming Spring Budget.”

The Warm Home Discount will take £150 off your electricity bill for the winter period bills between October 2022 and March 2023, for those who qualify.

Versus Arthritis is planning on handing an open letter to the Prime Minister in February 2023, where they will share the results of the survey and put forward their recommendations.

You can sign the petition to Rishi Sunak by visiting the Versus Arthritis website.

If you’re suffering from arthritis, the charity has published advice about the cost of living crisis and arthritis.



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