For those of you who have been treated at the Lupus Unit, please beware that there will be some major changes taking place. These changes have been on the cards for four years but are only just being implemented. The following is a letter from Professor David D'Cruz, Clinical Lead at the Lupus Unit:
The Louise Coote Lupus Unit, St Thomas’ Hospital, London.
I am writing to let you know that the process of reassessing the services we provide in the Louise Coote Lupus Unit is now under way.
We are a national tertiary referral unit and over the years our workload has increased to the point where we are having difficulty providing medical care to patients with active disease. We have a large number of patients with stable disease who attend for annual review. Having audited our workload, we believe that most of this care could be delivered by General Practitioners and local Consultants.
We have decided that patients with very active lupus/APS and major organ involvement would remain under our care. Other patients with stable conditions are likely to be referred to a local hospital and others whose lupus/APS has remained inactive for many years, would be discharged to the care of their GP.
Staff in the Louise Coote Lupus Unit would be very willing to review patients if in the judgement of their clinician their lupus/APS had become sufficiently active for more specialist treatment to be required again. Indeed we will have more capacity to promptly review patients with active or flaring disease once these arrangements are in place. We will be writing to patients to inform them of these changes to their care where appropriate.
These changes reflect what is happening in hospitals around the UK as part of the changes to the NHS including the new commissioning arrangements.
So, to put it bluntly, the unit cannot afford to keep treating patients unless they are high-risk. Many APS only patients are being referred to Beverley Hunt's team at Guy's Hospital but you should receive a letter which will let you know the route you are expected to take.
I personally think it's shocking what the government is doing to our NHS and this is just the tip of the iceberg ... just wait until the CCGs take over the GP networks. Care UK here we come - frightening when you look at their track record!