Yes, it’s that time of year, when we try to make predictions about NRAS’s future campaigning priorities –welcome to this edition of ‘Crystal Ball Gazing LIVE’ with your host Jamie ‘Professor Brian Cox’ Hewitt.
In recent times, NRAS campaigning has focused on strengthening our activity across the Devolved Nations, broadening out the variety of issues which NRAS lobbies on and trying to get our members more actively involved in campaigning at an earlier stage.
And we’ve had some real successes - with a series of ‘firsts’ including the launch of a new campaigns network in Scotland, our first ever live ministerial webchat, the introduction of new e-campaigning tools on our website, and the launch of our first annual RA Summit.
In 2013 our main objective is therefore to keep this pioneering spirit alive to ensure we have the biggest possible impact. So, without further ado, here are my top three picks for what you can expect to see the NRAS Government Affairs Team beavering away on:
1.Commissioning – there is no doubt 2013 will be a landmark year for the NHS with a raft of new organisations springing up to take over responsibility for commissioning local health services. As you would expect, NRAS is in the thick of the action, and we will be working extensively with partner organisations on a Department of Health pilot project to help advise a local Clinical Commissioning Group on redesigning a rheumatology service and build dedicated commissioning tools, we also expect to launch an expert patient commissioning pack, and are even in discussions about helping to deliver some aspects of local rheumatoid arthritis service. Exciting!
2.Cementing our position as thought leaders – we already have an enviable reputation in the charity sector for punching above our weight, but the raft of changes across the UK means that the battle to have our voices heard will intensify. We want to continue to be the ‘go to’ organisation for matters relating to rheumatoid arthritis, so expect to see more campaigning work to uncover baseline information about rheumatoid arthritis services across the UK and to see us continuing to put government policies under the microscope though our next RA Summit.
3.Implementation of the welfare reforms – last year our time was dominated by commenting on multiple welfare reform consultations. This year or focus will be on the practical implementation of these reforms. Expect to see Atos publish its revised medical protocol for RA shortly (which NRAS has been involved in) and to see the Government Affairs Team try to work constructively with DWP appointed providers to improve the quality of information to welfare assessors about the disease and for us to develop new tools to help people with RA understand the hurdles posed by the new reforms.
Of course, these are not the only things we will be working on – I forgot to mention the planned launch of our second campaigns network in Wales, additional work we will be doing to monitor the passage of the Care and Support Bill through the UK Parliament, the organisation of our biennial Healthcare Champions Awards and new campaigning activities for World Arthritis Day – to name but a few (just another typical year at NRAS then).
We had better get cracking!