Well, on top of the article in the Daily Mail that has caused our phones to practically melt (140 calls since Tuesday), we have got even more excitement to report. Lord Wills, who has taken up the cause of Giant Cell Arteritis and the tragedy of sight loss that it can cause, has managed to get the Government to officially agree to our estimates of the extent of this situation. And it's in Hansard - so it's official! Read on!
Asked by Lord Wills
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent estimate they have made of the costs to the National Health Service of failures to diagnose giant cell arteritis sufficiently early to prevent loss of vision for those afflicted.[HL1412]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent estimate they have made of the number of people afflicted by giant cell arteritis who have lost vision as a result of a failure to diagnose the illness sufficiently early.[HL1413]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Estimates of the incidence of giant cell arteritis in the literature vary, but on the highest estimate (that of Smeeth et al, 2006) the annual incidence in England could be around 11,000. In a recently published study, 19 of 65 patients (29%) newly diagnosed with giant cell arteritis had suffered irreversible loss of vision. Combining these estimates, up to 3,200 people annually may be suffering partial or total loss of vision as a result of giant cell arteritis. Many of these cases may have been preventable.