John raises awareness of the risks of developing rheumatoid arthritis caused by smoking

23 Dec 2014


John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, showed support for patients with the chronic autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by visiting a Scottish Parliament exhibition hosted by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and NHS Fife.

RA is a chronic, systemic autoimmune disease which can cause long term disability. NRAS estimates that it affects nearly 60,000 people in Scotland – equivalent to around 800 people in Glasgow Shettleston – and poses a significant economic burden on the Scottish economy.

The exhibition titled ‘Rheumatoid arthritis: raising awareness and responding effectively’ highlighted the need for greater public awareness of RA and the twofold risk of developing the disease caused by heavy smoking.

John was met by NRAS representatives and clinicians from NHS Fife’s Rheumatic Diseases Unit, including Fiona Tweedie (pictured), where they discussed what could be done to improve referral and diagnosis rates and raise awareness of the link between RA and smoking.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment within 12 weeks of symptom onset, are central to improving long term outcomes for patients and reducing the likelihood of work disability. Despite this, a report by the Scottish Public Health Network, published in 2012, found that the average time from symptom onset to seeing a specialist in Scotland was 24 weeks. Delays were found to occur before people sought help from their GP and before GPs made a referral to a specialist.