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How many appointments with hospital specialist are taken by people with rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is generally managed in hospital, though this can be done jointly with primary care when the disease is stable. Based on studies, it's estimated that a new patient with rheumatoid arthritis should, on average, be seen in a rheumatologist’s clinic four times per year1. After the first year an average of two visits per year is more appropriate.

Figures for hospital visits will vary widely; some people don't need to be seen regularly but others need frequent monitoring because of their specific treatments. Although increasingly these visits may be to a rheumatology nurse specialist, results show that 80,000 clinic attendances are needed for new rheumatoid arthritis patients alone, based on the estimated number of current cases in the UK. A further 800,000 appointments would be needed for patients with existing rheumatoid arthritis.


1.    Hewlett S, Mitchell K, Haynes J, Paine T, Korendowych E, Kirwan JR. Patient-initiated hospital follow-up for rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2000; 39(9):990–97.

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